Finish the Story — Andrei and Eartha

BBAE266B-AC7F-4CA6-9318-51DE5DF0CAF5Teresa, over at The Mapless Wanderer, tagged me for her latest Finish the Story prompt. The rules for this challenge are simple.

* Copy and paste the story as you receive it.
* Add the next segment or choose to finish it.
* Tag someone for the next installment.
* Have fun and let your imagination roam free.

Here’s how Teresa got this started.

It all started with a hastily written, albeit vague, note left in an old book.

“To the one I love,
Meet me at our spot.”

Andrei browsed the shelves at Jim’s Used Books, not looking for anything in particular when he spotted an a gray and silver spine. Huh? He pulled out the book, tracing the strangely familiar symbol on its cover. No title? No author? Lemon and a hint of peppermint floated in the air as he opened the book.

A small piece of paper floated gently to the floor and caught his attention. A simple handwritten note on tanning paper. His fingers tingled as he picked it up and read it. Without giving the book a second thought, he placed it back on the shelf, tucked the note into his jacket pocket and left the store.

***

Eartha had just settled into the booth at Phil’s Cafe, plugged in her laptop, and opened her latest manuscript draft. There was nowhere better to write a contemporary story than the corner of a busy cafe in the University district. So many snippets of passing conversations ended up in her stories without anyone knowing.

She giggled as a young couple argued over whether pineapple belonged on pizza, and another pair of young men, probably football fans by their non-player jerseys, debated the finer points of surviving a bullet hell.

Jasper brought over her order and smiled. “Someone left this the other day and I asked Phil if I could give it to you since no one claimed it.” He pulled a small, red leather journal with a heart pressed into its cover out of his apron pouch, smiling.

“Really?” She beamed. “Thanks.”

He grinned, nodded, and returned to his work.

She examined the journal and paused before opening it. “What if it’s like personal? That poor person.” Okay. If it is personal, I’m going to find the person who lost it and return it.

As she opened the front cover, a small piece of paper flitted into her lap. Giggling, she picked it up and read the pristine handwriting. Fancy script from long ago. Her smile faded as she tucked the journal into her bag, unplugged the laptop, put it away, and left her untouched pizza on the table with a ten dollar bill.

***

Andrei wandered to the nearest rail line and stood by the long row of windows that overlooked the tracks. Lemon, peppermint, and pineapple tickled his nose. He glanced up and saw a beautiful young lady walking toward him. She paused at the other end of the hall and gazed out across the tracks.

His heart fluttered and the note’s message played in his mind.

The longer he watched her, the more he felt he knew her. Compelled to speak to her, he walked toward her and …


And now for my contribution.

… said, “Excuse me, miss, but you look awfully familiar. Have we ever met?”

Eartha looked at the man. She admitted that there was a spark of recognition, but she was unable to recall a time or place. She figured maybe she had seen him around town or perhaps at Phil’s. “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I know you,” she said.

“My name is Andrei,” he said, “and I know this is going to sound crazy, but a very strange note fell out of a book I picked up at a used book store in town. And after reading it, I felt compelled to come here. Then, when I saw you, an overwhelming feeling that you are the reason I’m here came over me.”

Eartha turned pale upon hearing Andrei’s words. “What did the note you found in the book say?” She asked.

Andrei pulled the note out of his pocket and started to read it. “It said, ‘To the one I love.’”

Eartha interrupted Andrei and finished the note, “‘Meet me at our spot,’ right?”

“How did you know that?” Andrei asked.

“I found the same note in a journal that someone handed to me this morning,” Eartha said, showing the note to him. “And like you, I felt the need to come here to this rail station.”

Andrei gazed at the note. “You found this in a journal? May I see it?”

Eartha opened her bag and handed the small, red leather journal with a heart pressed into its cover to Andrei. “Oh my God,” Andrei said as tears started flowing down his cheeks.


And I’m going to tag Susan, over at Susan’s Place, to pick things up from here. I hope she will.

Finish the Story — The House By the Lake – Part 5

43935A6F-53E7-4937-B17E-5DD4E928CD4DI have been tagged by Kristian of Tales From the Mind of Kristian to take part in the latest Finish the Story challenge from Teresa Grabs.

The rules for this challenge are

  1. Copy the story as you receive it.
  2. Add to the story in some fashion.
  3. Tag another person to contribute to or finish the story.
  4. Please use FTS as a tag so Teresa can find it or link back to part 1.
  5. Have Fun!

Here’s how Teresa kicked things off.

A house sat perched precariously on the edge of Clearwater Lake. It was a house that should not have stood, yet stand it did. It had been there for centuries and locals swore the same couple lived there the whole time. Locals never knew how right they were until the day the rains started.

“It’s just a little rain,” Susan said, watching the couple pile water and canned fruit into their shopping cart.

The couple looked at the checker and smiled politely. “The rain will not stop,” they said, “we’ve seen this before.”

No sooner had the couple left, Susan but dropped her smirk as locals poured into the shop chaotically looking for food. The once spring storm skies have turned …

To be continued


Sadje’s part 2.

….. dark grey and water came down in sheets. People were scurrying away in the downpour with their bags of groceries clutched tightly under their umbrellas. Susan thought that it would be prudent to get some stuff for her family as well, just in case… What am I thinking! She nervously chided herself and yet she bought some bottled water, cans of soup and other supplies and started home. The umbrella she had was too flimsy and inadequate to handle the rain and she was soaked to skin when she reached her place. She met Dan at the door who was getting the kids inside. She sent an inquiring gaze towards him and was answered by a nod. Dan knew something but didn’t want to say it in front of the kids.

After dinner when they had sent the kids to bed, they discussed the elephant in the room.

“Do you think there is something to be worried about, the rain I mean?” Susan asked him.

Dan looked a bit worried but smiled at her question. “You have heard the rumor too?”

“I was there when the Jackson’s were buying water and other foodstuffs in the store today. She said that the rain won’t stop! Do you know what she meant?”

Dan looked uneasy and said…….


Melanie’s part 3.

Dan looked uneasy and said, “Oh I suspect those people are just doomsday advocates. You know, those odd people who go about spreading lies about the coming end of the world!”

Susan frowned, disturbed at Dan’s cavalier attitude. “I don’t know about the doomsday idea,” she began, “sensible people have been telling us about the repercussions of our lifestyles for years and years. What do you think global warming is about, anyway?! All these horrid superstorms, which keep getting more and more severe. I wonder if there isn’t a grain of truth in the Jackson’s statement. Maybe the rain won’t stop this time.”

Dan snorted, but it was a weak uncertain sound. Susan knew he believed the same thing she did. But what to do about it? There wasn’t enough food and water available if the rain kept pouring down, not to mention the flooding that surely would occur and the destruction of life as they knew it.

Susan thought back to old traditions that she had grown up hearing about. Things about appeasing old gods and sacrifice. Maybe it was time for some out of the box thinking. Maybe someone should call Stephen King and ask him what he would do, if he were writing about the end of days brought about by a mega-storm, instead of a mega-virus. Susan shook her head at her whimsical train of thought.

The thing to do right now was to make sure her family was secure. Dan could put together some sandbags and …

There was a tremendous roaring sound and a portion of the side door nearest the small creek, broke apart. Muddy water began to pour into the hall. Susan screamed, out of pure reflex, and Dan and she clung to each other watching the water run. Out of the black night a voice boomed…


Kristian’s part 4.

Making them jump, then stand and stare in astonishment.

“Come on, jump aboard, this is your last chance,” said a man with a long white beard standing on wooden hand made boat.

Susan grabbed her raincoat and her kids and jumped onto the boat and Dan was not far behind. They saw they were not the only people on board, several of their neighbours were there huddled inside the bowels of the boat.

There didn’t appear to be anyone steering or rowing the boat and yet, without rhyme or reason, it appeared to float down the watery avenue that had once been the main street of town.

The boat then sailed out onto the lake towards the island. The lights in the house were lit like a beacon, beckoning them in. The boat pulled up against a wooden jetty and the strange bearded man jumped out and tied the boat securely.

“Come on everyone, we’ll be safe on the island.”

When they arrived at the house, the front door opened and to everyone’s surprise…


Fandago’s part 5.

…there were seven dwarfs standing in a reception line, greeting everyone as they walked into house’s foyer. “Oh my God, they are so cute,” Susan whispered to Dan.

Dan, always the skeptic, said, “I don’t know, Susan. I am not too keen on being ‘saved’ by some random, Gandalf-like Wizard who miraculously shows up at our home, shuffles us onto a crude wooden boat, and then leads us into Snow White’s house to be greeted by the likes of Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, and Sneezy. Are we in the middle of some weird dream or are we dead, having perished when the muddy waters poured into the hall of our home? This whole situation makes no sense.”

Dan walked up to the man with the long white beard and said, “Where are we and what is going on here? We put our lives in your hands and you bring us to this strange house with these little people waiting to greet us. I need a rational explanation for all of this. I demand an explanation.”

The man with the long white beard glared at Dan. “Your cynicism is well placed, my friend,” he said. “We are at a way station, neither here nor there. We will remain here until fate guides us to our next steps.”

“What next steps?” Dan asked.

The man with the long long white beard smiled. “You are about to find out, my friend.” Just at that moment, the front door to the strange house flung open and standing in the doorway was none other than…


I tag Pete, at Stroke Survivor, to exercise his fiction writing chops and to write the next installment.

Finish the Story 2020 #1 — The Mystery Coach

F7FB3C29-17B0-40B6-BE01-A1EC65C6BD18Teresa Grabs, formerly known as The Haunted Wordsmith, has resurrected her Finish the Story prompt on her new blog. The idea is that Teresa starts a story and then tags someone to pick it up where she left off. Then that person tags another to pick up where he or she left off. And so on and so on. I’m honored that Teresa has selected me as her first victim participant.

Here’s how Teresa got the story started.

Leslie squealed as Alan removed his hands from her eyes. “Oh, Alan! It’s beautiful!” The coach and dirt path seemed a marriage made in time. How had he done this? Surely he didn’t go all the way to Pennsylvania to buy the coach, but she wouldn’t put anything past him.

“I knew you’d love it.” Alan’s red cheeks matched his hair. Whether it was from the cold or love, it didn’t matter, an entire year’s work and effort culminated in the smile on Leslie’s face. Totally nailed it.

Leslie bounced and clapped, kissing him on his cheek. “Take me for a ride! It’s works, doesn’t it?”

“Of course it does, my love.”

They climbed into the coach. Alan chuckled, looking all around for its key, starter button — something, anything.

Suddenly the coach started and they laughed as it lurched. Leslie was sure Alan was doing this, and Alan was wondering how Leslie was operating the coach. It wasn’t until it picked up speed as it went down the trail and headed for a corner that panic set in.

“Alan? Alan! Stop this!”

Alan pushed and pulled at everything he could see within the coach, but nothing slowed their ride. “I’m not doing this.” He glanced toward the trees and wiped his face. “Should we jump for it?”

“Are you insane!” Leslie slugged his arm as tears formed in her eyes.

The coach turned the corner on its own. Leslie and Alan covered their eyes as …

And here’s my addition.

… the coach careened down the trail, picking up speed. Leslie was crying hysterically. “Alan, please stop this thing before we both die.”

“I don’t know how,” Alan responded. “I can’t find a brake.” The two clung to each other, sure that this misadventure would end in disaster, as the carriage continued to bound and bounce down the trail.

A few seconds later, the jostling of the delicate coach caused the left rear wheel to come off of its axle. The coach to tipped to one side and tossed the two passengers from the carriage like rag dolls.

Fortunately, Alan and Leslie landed on a grassy mound a few feet off the rocky trail. Both were shaken, but neither was hurt, save for a few small cuts and bruises. Once it sank in that they were both okay, they hugged each other. “That was a close call,” Alan whispered in Leslie’s ear.

Leslie pulled away from Alan and gave him a stern look. “Alan, where did you get that haunted coach?” she asked.

Alan shook his head. “Well, it’s kind of a long story. I saw an ad in the paper,” he said. “So I called and …”

And now I’m going to tag Kristian from Tales From the Mind of Kristian to take it from here.


The image at the top is from Peter H from Pixabay.

Finish the Story — Island Getaway – Part 7

DAAAF054-95C7-47E0-8014-65DDB30FCE36Kristian, at Tales From the Mind of Kristian, tagged me for the latest Finish the Story prompt from Teresa at The Haunted Wordsmith.

Teresa gave us the image above (from by enriquelopezgarre at Pixabay) and started us off with this:

As soon as Liam read the advertisement, he knew the place was for him. Three-story newly renovated home on a private island in the middle of Hidden Hollow Lake. Owner motivated to sell.

“I will have it!” He scanned the ad for a contact number and phoned it immediately. To his surprise, the agent said the house was his as soon as she answered the phone. “What do you mean the house is mine? I haven’t even made an offer yet.”

She laughed. “Mr. Owens, I have been instructed to sell the home to the first person who called, and today is your lucky day. I can meet you on the pier in an hour with your keys.”

“Oh… okay… yeah! Today really is my lucky day, isn’t it?”

Liam rushed around his tiny apartment, threw a few items into a backpack, and caught the train to the pier. Halfway expecting this to be a scam, he was gobsmacked when a professional-looking woman approached him, smiling.

“Mr. Owens, I presume?”

“Um, yeah, that’s me.”

“Good. Sign here, please, and I can release your keys to you.”

His hand shook with anticipation as he scratched his name on the form.

“And here are your keys. That man will take you to the island,” she said, pointing to a man in a small rowboat. “Thank you for your business.”

He watched as she walked toward the parking lot and disappeared into the crowd. “How’d she know my name?”

“You ready?” the boatman called.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” He climbed into the rowboat and took in the beautiful scenery before him, forgetting all about the sales agent. “This is really pretty, isn’t it?”

The man didn’t respond.

“Ok.” Liam sat in silence until the island came into view. It looked exactly as it had in the advertisement. He rubbed his eyes and pinched himself, convinced it was a dream.

“Get out here,” the boatman said, sternly as they reached the shore.

“Well, thanks, I guess.” Liam stepped out into knee-deep water and shivered as it soaked his pants. “How do I get back?” he asked as the boatman pushed away from the shore.

“There’s a flare in the house should you need it,” he called back, shaking his head.

Liam turned around and saw …

Li at Tao-Talk took part 2:

… a school of sharks swimming straight towards him! As a marine biologist, Liam knew it was unheard of for sharks to swim in a freshwater lake, even though he also knew a small canal connected Hidden Hollow Lake to the Atlantic at certain times of the year. Snapping his focus back to survival, his next thought was to run the 50 yards of knee-deep water before they nabbed him.

As Liam ran 10k every morning, it was no problem outpacing his sea-hunters – or so he thought. Even as his fleet feet touched dry sand he felt snapping jaws latch onto the sole of his shoe. Turning around, he saw a 2-foot tiger struggling to get a better grip on the rubber. Liam was blessed to see a piece of driftwood at hand. He grabbed it and beat the small shark on the head until it let loose and flip-flopped and rolled back into the water.

Unfortunately, in his desperate run for his life, Liam had let go of his backpack. Even now he could see it bobbing farther away from shore. He thought of risking it and going back out, but he could see shark fins circling the pack. His wallet, phone, snacks, a few books, and a couple of changes of clothing were in there. His pockets were empty except for his trusty Swiss Army knife.

The boatman had said something about a flare if he needed it. What kind of place was this?

Liam took a deep breath and looked around. The house of his dreams was another 50 yards. As he got nearer, he saw that the curtains to the windows were open, as was the front door. Curiosity getting the better of him, he ran the final yards. Stepping onto the porch, he heard voices talking inside. Imagine his surprise when….

Paula at Light Motifs took part 3:

….he found a bunch of people sprawled over sofas with laptops, iPads, and papers they periodically wadded up in disgust and flung in the corner.

“My agent was right!” moaned one woman. “This is all crap! Every word. I should have become a veterinarian instead.”

Oh no. Liam shrank back in horror. It was too awful to consider. Noooo!

A man stood up. “My poetry is top shelf. If these idiots can’t see that it’s because they’re sheep who want Hallmark card pap. But after I’m dead for another hundred years, well, then they’ll wish they’d appreciated me more.”

Liam’s heart raced with renewed terror. He’d been duped into buying the Ghost Writers’ Grievance Hotel! He’d have to take his chances with the sharks.

“Hey!” The ghost poet pointed at Liam. “Aren’t you that famous publisher’s kid?”

“Me?” Liam’s voice cracked.

The ghostwriters started to float over to the doorway.

“It is him!”

“I saw his photo in the news with Mark Manson.”

“That blogger guy? That’s not real writing.”

“Yes, it is. My friend made thousands on her mommy blog and it was very funny too. Then they turned it into a book!”

“Ridiculous! I’m talking about timeless classics.”

Liam desperately searched for a way to escape these lunatics. But they were all around him now, yapping and jabbering. It was his worst fear.

And then one of them…

Di at Pensitivity101 took part 4:

…put a ghostly arm around his shoulders and began to merge himself with his body. ‘Get out of me!‘ Liam shouted pulling at his clothes. ‘How dare you invade my personal space without so much as a by your leave!’

‘Sorry,’ the entity smirked. ‘Just wanted to touch base with the living and get some new ideas.’

‘Well sod off! My ideas are mine and I’ll do with them as I wish to thank you very much!’ With that, he turned on his heel and stalked outside to the echoes of their laughter.

Sprawled on the sand he watched the sharks nibbling at his backpack offshore. No chance of retrieving that then. He was thirsty and hungry, but to eat he had to face them again.

What on earth was he going to do? Could he welch on the deal? After all, no money had actually changed hands, but the place was perfect for inspiration and he had been toying with the idea of writing a novel.
‘Touch base with the living’
‘New ideas’ sifted through his head and a plan began to form…

Sadje at Keep It Alive took part 5:

Liam picked himself up from the beach and assuming a nonchalant attitude walked back to the house. As he entered it he heard mock clapping from a few of the ghosts. Ignoring them he came to center of the living room and said loudly.  “I am offering a deal to anyone who is brave enough to take it” there was a hush in the room. Then the poet who had tried to co-occupy his body asked him what was it that he was offering. Liam cleared his throat for theatrical effect and said,  “I am offering a collaboration. If you can give me new ideas for my book I will acknowledge your contributions in the book. That way you will achieve the fame you wanted in life, posthumously!”

The room will as filled with babbling voices of all the writers and poets. They were excited and intrigued. Liam congratulated himself on his clever idea and went towards the kitchen to get something to eat, leaving them arguing the merits of a collaboration.

As he made himself some coffee and a big sandwich, Liam sensed a presence behind him. The poet and a few other ghosts were there and one of them spoke up “We are happy to take your deal. But we have a condition …

Kristian at Tales From the Mind of Kristian took part 6:

A chill ran down his spine as he felt one of the ghostly forms touch his shoulder.

“What is your condition?” he asked trepidatiously.

The poet grinned, flashing a gap-toothed smile.

“You have to stay here with us on this Island, forever.”

Liam had somehow suspected their request and was willing to go along with it if it will help him realise his dream to become a successful published author. He had no plan to actually keep his word, however. His agile mind went over the idea, what he would gain by it.

“OK, I agree,” Liam said.

The crowd of ghosts cheered so loudly, Liam had to raise his voice to be heard over their din.

“Right, now you need to help me prepare a plotline.”

He had to admit that these literary ghosts had a talent that he could only dream of. The story they collaborated on, was one of the most original, exciting and insightful tales he had ever heard.

However, he had one major problem now…

And now for my part 7:

His problem? Well, there were many, actually. First and foremost, ghosts are not alive. Liam had noticed when he went to the kitchen to get something to eat that there was nothing there. No food in the cupboards, an empty refrigerator. Nothing. Why? Because ghosts don’t eat. Worse yet, there was no electricity in the house. The seller had stopped all service when they move from the island house. Even though, when he first walked into the house he found bunch of “people” sprawled over sofas with laptops and iPads, none of the devices were working because their batteries were as dead as the ghosts and there was no way to recharge them. And, there was no internet connection or WiFi.

So if this deal was going to work, Liam had to arrange for the utilities to get hooked up again, get WiFi working, and, most important, get food and drink. Especially drink. What great novelist isn’t also a drunk? And that meant he had to get back to the mainland.

Liam gathered all the ghostwriters around him. “I know I promised that I would stay here forever, but as a living being, I need food. I also need to restore the electricity so that we can recharge our devices and WiFi so that we can communicate with the outside world. I need to get a new phone, laptop, and tablet as well as more clothes, since all that was lost when the sharks were after me.”

The ghosts looked around at each other and one said, “He really doesn’t know, does he?”

“What are you talking about?” Liam asked the ghost. “What don’t I know?”


How about if Michael, at Morpethraod,picks it up and takes a shot at part 8?

Finish the Story — The Future Is Down

DCA05D9F-EBAC-4B47-9707-BBDED0EFDBA4Teresa, over at The Haunted Wordsmith has tagged me to carry on her latest Finish the Story prompt. Teresa starts it out, then tags another blogger, in this case me, to add the next part. I will tag someone else to continue the story and so on and so on.

Here is Teresa’s Part 1 of “The Future Is Down”:

For fifty generations, the people of Haven have lived in the sky. Floating without a care in the world in balloons and ships passed down from father to son and mother to daughter. Everything a person would ever need in their balloons was provided to them. The sky lord saw to that. The people were happy and the sky lord was happy. But, even in a perfect life, there is born in every generation one person who is not content. Ivan was this generation’s adventurer.

When other kids passed their day playing cards or making up stories with their family, Ivan stared below his balloon and wondered. He wondered what was below the clouds. Was it a world filled with giant monsters that could gobble him in a single bite? Or, was it a world filled with tiny fairies that fluttered around towering trees just waiting for him to come play?

The more he looked, the more he wondered. And the more he wondered, the more he dreamed. Dreamed of leaving the sky.

And that is exactly what he did on his thirteenth birthday after receiving his very own balloon.

“Goodbye,” he shouted, waving as he slowly deflated his balloon. “I love you all, but have to find out. I’ll write when I can!”

As his balloon inched its way down toward the unknown, Ivan’s heart raced with excitement. “I wonder what I’ll see first.”

Ivan didn’t have long to wait, for as soon as he was in a cloud bank, he saw…

And here is my part 2:

…a huge, noisy, metallic, cylindrical tube zoom right by him, causing his balloon to start shaking and shimmering in the strange object’s wake. “Oh sky lord,” he screamed, as he tried desperately to regain control of his balloon. “What the Haven was that?”

“That was an airplane,” a voice said. Ivan turned to see that a strange looking animal of some sort had landed on the rim of his balloon’s basket. It was covered in colorful feathers and it had long, feather-covered arms that flapped up and down in a rhythmic motion. It had small, beady eyes and a pointy, hard looking mouth. And when it spoke to Ivan, it was in more of a squawk than a voice.

“What in the sky lord’s name are you?” Ivan asked the creature. “And what was that thing you call an airplane that almost knocked my balloon out of the sky?”

“I’ve heard of beings like you who live in balloons far above the clouds,” squawked the feathered creature, “but I thought it was just an ancient myth.”

“I’m as real as you are, whatever it is that you are,” Ivan said.

“I am Hawkeye,” the creature said, “and I am what the surface beings call a bird.”

“The surface beings?” Ivan said. “Tell me more, Hawkeye.”


And now I am tagging Li over at Tao-Talk to pick up and run with Part 3.