How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

#BlogBattle 3 – Prompt: Air

63 Comments


Find the rules at Rachel Ritchie’s blog here.

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Prompt: Air

Words: 970

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Kitten or Mouse

Julie pressed back against the wall of the Fish and Tackle shop as if to melt into the paint and woodgrain. He had found her. No other reason for his appearance in this crack in the world atop the U.S./Canada border. Three years. Why now? Stroking her windpipe, the relentless thumbs and her struggle to break their pressure flashed before her like a bad movie. He breezed past in his signature Mercedes, still the same one, looking neither left nor right, a silver streak in the sun.

Weak-kneed, she gulped lungs full of fishy autumn air. Her paralysis abated; a headache blossomed.

“Are you all right, Miss?” A chubby teen reached out in support of her elbow.

Oblivious to his approach, Julie screamed. Hands clenched to her chin, she nodded but tracked the car’s disappearance over the boy’s shoulder. Up the hill, she slogged on leaden legs to the parking lot. No shopping today. The teen squinted and shook his head.

A miracle, he lived. So, Markus had evaded both jailers and creditors. To save his neck, he’d wanted to sell their real estate business, but she vanished after the choking incident. Not possible without her signature—unless, he had finagled her autograph. Of course, he had, or he’d be dead. Teeth clattering like loose Chicklets, she backed the car in behind the little green house on the dead-end street.

Inside, she locked the doors and snapped the blinds shut. Nerves jangling like unraveled electric wires, she turned on the black and white portable television, the sound turned off. Front door to hallway, to the kitchen, and back she paced. Why was he here?

The landline rattled a rotary grumble. Other than old Widow Schumacher across the road, no one phoned her. She picked up. “Hello, Anna?” Tense, her voice cracked. “Anna… is everything alright? Anna…” Julie slammed the phone into its cradle, a sob choking her. Wait a minute… She peeked between the curtains in the front room. Eyes closed, Anna relaxed on her verandah, face toward the milky fall sun.

Julie massaged her knotted forehead. Could be a wrong number. Right? Marcus showing up is a coincidence? What’s he want? He wouldn’t recognize me after the work I’ve had done. My voice… Shoot—my voice hasn’t changed.

The walls closed in like sentries—bad ones—pushy, determined, smothering. How did he get this number? He doesn’t know my name. Get a grip, Julie. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Br-r-r-ring. Julie jumped back though the whirr originated in the kitchen. She tiptoed to the curtains. The widow’s chin had dropped to her chest.

Neck and shoulders clenched, her tension grew in drowning waves. The black phone droned on like a loud purr, like his voice purring, purring like a cat, watching the mouse sweat and then bam! He always won—later if not sooner.

The first time had been over her signature and a password. He said she’d never leave him. He wouldn’t allow it. The next time she knew he’d finish the job because his mouse had fled. What did he want now? Three years ago she had an escape plan and a nest egg. This time she had no time to plan, but her nest egg safe, grew.

The phone stopped; the silence eerie like a yawning vacuum. Julie stood at the edge staring into the abyss, ready to jump.

Br-r-r-ring.

“Stop.” Julie covered her ears. She found herself peering through the curtains again, the widow gone.

Silence slammed into her like a brick wall. Time to get out of the house. She grabbed her purse.

Br-r-r-ring.

What if it isn’t him? She picked up the receiver.

“Hello, kitten.” His practiced smile burned into her ear. “I like the red hair. Some people have been anxious to pin your disappearance on me—but without proof…” He raised his voice, the smile erased. “I want my briefcase back…”

Julie laid the receiver on the small table, grabbed a scarf, and tiptoed out of her house. The car in neutral, she coasted down the incline to the street. This mouse isn’t your plaything anymore. She high-tailed it with no clear plan in mind, other than crossing the border into Maine. If he knows about the hair, he knows what I look like. How did he find me?

First things first. Lie low in Maine for two or three days.

* * *

She stayed away an extra day. Hair mahogany and lips watermelon pink, she parked a block away from home and strode up the street to Anna’s in sandals instead of heels. Hidden behind bold sunglasses, she scanned her house. It wore a look of abandonment and melancholy. She knocked. No Anna.

Nothing stirred not even the fallen leaves. Across the street, she picked up four daily papers left in her absence and checked the mailbox. Heart on the verge of imploding, Julie tried the back door. The phone rested on the table as before. She hung it up to stop the awful beep. The newspapers dumped in the trash, she retrieved the latest one. Flashes of blue without sound earned a switch-off. How long before he knocks on my door?

Lightheaded, her heart continued the Watusi. Water on the boil for tea, Julie dropped into a kitchen chair and unfolded the paper. A three-car pile-up exiting the Canadian side took the lives of one man and sent three others to hospital. The kettle whistled. She examined the wrecks in full-color. A shiver passed over her. Something familiar… “Shut up!” She slammed off the offensive shriek.

The deceased, a Canadian, remains unidentified until next of kin… Anyone with information…

1983 silver Mercedes Benz 300 SD…

R.I.P. Better you than me.

Free. Free. Free at last. No peering over my shoulder.

By the way, Markus, your briefcase is safe.

The End

Image courtesy of Pixabay

© 2017 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

63 thoughts on “#BlogBattle 3 – Prompt: Air

  1. I really like the added touches to enhance the vividness of your scenes: sandals instead of heels, hiding behind sunglasses, the kettle whistled right in the middle of that intense scene… really good writing! 🙂

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  3. Well played, Tess. (Hit way too close to home. As for the car wreck, one can hope.) Mega hugs.

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  4. very elegance and nice touch….

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  5. I can only imagine her fear. What a story, Tess.

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  6. Impeccable writing and so descriptive…the “landline rattled a rotary grumble”! Love this!

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  7. Loved the growing tension, Tess. As usual your writing is engaging and ending a complete surprise. A good one. Bye, Bye Markus! 💛 Christine

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  8. Another tension maker, Tess. The best line was” teeth clattering like loose chicklets. ” The whole story was spellbinding. Well done.

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  9. Well done! Now then, why does she have his briefcase?

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  10. A great story Tess and an unexpected ending. Really enjoyed this.

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  11. One of your best Tess. It leaves so many questions and possibilities open, but hooray for Julie!

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  12. Oh, so well done, Tess. You do have a great writing style.x

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  13. Great story Tess.. loved the tension… brilliant as always. Hugs xx

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  14. Is it really Markus, was the car stolen? Could he still be alive… Brill story Tess, (the silence eerie like a yawning vacuum) I love this line…

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  15. Whew! That was tense, with vivid imagery. Excellent, Tess 🙂 x

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  16. Wow! I just love the way you crank up the tension until… BAM! You had me fearing for the widow just as much as Julie.

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    • So good to hear. Have you not been posting lately. Seems ages since I’ve seen anything on your blog. Concentrating on writing? I’ve mentioned before you’re the queen of banter. I’m going to check out if my subscription is still working o_O
      Thank you for reading and your kind and supportive comment, K.L. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I’m certain your subscription still works. I’ve been a bit absent, though I keep meaning to post more. I’m eyeballs deep in a couple projects that aren’t writing, but are writing related.

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  18. I felt like I was…right there, like, right there, doesn’t really seem like a good thing but it was, wow, that’s a lot of tension – love it! Thank you, Tess, you always know how to intrigue and entertain. 🙂 hope this week is treating you kindly. 🙂

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  19. That’s horrible… perfect. The phone ringing is very Hitchcockian. make you jump even just reading it. You write ina cvery visual way, you know…

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  20. I could see this as a movie. Suspenseful and scary.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Your writing always captures us to the very end Tess. Well done! 🙂 ❤

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  22. Aren’t you generous, Debby. Thank you. Glad you like. {{ ❤ }}

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  23. Back to the edge of my seat Tess! You never disappoint.

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  24. I am literally on the edge of my seat – fabulous use of suspense throughout. I’m wondering who really is the mouse and who the cat? Great story!

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  25. Wow, you’re really good at creating suspense, Tess! Having the kettle boil right in the middle of the scene was a powerful move.

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  26. Great to see you still writing your wonderfully riviting stories Tess, really enjoyed it. Your flair for description and suspense is as stylish as ever. Great photo too…reminds me of my naughty black cat who has caught three mice in one week, yikes!!!! Lovely to see you again my friend, sorry I’m not around much these days. I’m struggling on the blogging front but doing my best…as always… 😉 🙂 ❤

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  27. The suspense kept me at the edge of my chair! I breathed a sigh of relief along with Julie at the end. Great story!

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  28. You certainly rose to the challenge and completely nailed it Tess! I loved the ending too, and hope that he got his comeuppance!

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  29. Nice ending–now you have me wondering what’s in the briefcase. 🙂

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  30. You actually elicited a shiver from me with the suspense building in every line … but I do love a happy ending 🙂

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  31. I’d soooo hate to be her! Nice suspense, Tess. 😀

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Some things in life are complicated. Let's keep it simple.

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