Chapter 2

Written by: Diana Labrum

Helen’s heart raced as fear gripped her. She felt chilled all over and started backing away without taking her eyes off the gun pointed at her head. The thought of running for it occurred to her for a split second but she was afraid to turn her back on the woman. 

“What do you want with me?” Helen stammered. “What are you going to do with that gun?” 

The woman stared at Helen for several minutes without saying a word. A puzzled expression hid any sign of emotion. Gradually the woman’s stone-like features softened into a smile and she said, “Don’t be afraid Miss Cole, I don’t intend to harm you.” The fear that gripped Helen to the core remained but was augmented now by confusion.

She spoke perfect English, but a hint of an accent betrayed her French roots. “I carry the gun for my own protection,” she explained though she didn’t say from what. Helen understood that it would be better if she didn’t ask.

“The man you were following along the Embankment, do you know him?”

“No, I was just curious about … Helen thought better of what she started to say and changed her reply. “I thought the man looked like my brother that’s all … why?” 

Helen didn’t get an answer but didn’t expect one. She thought again of her brother and grew more anxious. Ralph was never one to be on time for anything. One would think being in the army would teach him to be more reliable, but apparently not. 

“I am here to meet my brother and need to get back to the obelisk,” Helen explained as she turned to continue on her way. “He is several hours late, and I am quite worried that something has happened.” 

Helen started to walk away but the woman stopped her. “I will come with you if you don’t mind,” she demanded then, softening her tone, qualified it with, “I can help protect you while you look for your brother”.

“My brother’s name is Ralph,” Helen said, nervously attempting small talk as they walked. But her eyes never left the gun. She almost missed the brief hint of recognition, the slightest change in expression, the quickening step as they navigated the ruins in silence.

Finally, the woman said, without expression, “I know of Ralph Cole”. 

She gestured with the gun to keep moving but insisted on a different route.  Instead of crossing the river the woman directed Helen to pass the Waterloo and continue up river. The stench of industrial waste adding to the smells of the Thames hung in the night air suffocating the city and giving the feeling of despair and death.  

“This isn’t the way to the obelisk,” Helen protested and started to turn back toward the bridge.

The woman’s expression immediately turned ugly as she barked the order through clenched teeth, “If you want to see your brother alive again I suggest you keep moving.”

Comments

Now more menace is added. Terrific chapter Diane. Adding the description of the smells was great. Sometimes we miss that sense in our writing and when its added it fleshes out the characters in the story. Welcome to The Story Mint and congratulations on this wonderful chapter.
Well, the gauntlet has been thrown down, Joe. Diana, this is a terrific piece of work that is really descriptive and full of energy. The tension is slowly winding up and just as things get interesting we freeze the action, leaving me frustrated and wanting to know more. I agree with Suraya. Adding one sentence regarding the 'stench' is a winner. What a lovely word that is. The chapter's atmosphere and historic significance were exposed in one powerful sentence. Fabulous. Loved it.
Thank you Suraya and Ray. I do have to admit that I had quite a bit of help from my dear husband. I tried it quite a few times and he finally helped me. Hopefully the next one will be easier for me. I am signed up to write Chapter 10 of Sweetness but Chapter 9 has not been written yet.
Diana, you sell yourself short. I didn't help you that much. All your ideas I just helped get it on the grid. Really good start.