Chapter 3

Written by: Joe Labrum

A call ringing in on my mobile wrenched me from a peaceful sleep, the first in days. The uncertainty of what to do about my inquisitive boss had seen to that. I stared at the device for a moment before I threw the quilt back and reached for it. As a rule I ignored calls that left the caller unidentified, but this time a feeling told me I should answer.

“Hello.” My weak, half asleep voice sounded like it came from someone else, strained into the mouthpiece.

“Meet me at Amy’s Café and Bar on Gilchrist in half an hour. We need to talk,” the man whispered.

“Do you have any idea of the hour? Who is this?” I demanded.

“Come to the front door. I’ll let you in.” The line went dead.

Suddenly, awake enough to gather my wits, I realized the voice on the other end of the line had a familiar ring to it. A sophomoric attempt to disguise it had made the man sound like a community theatre actor reading for the part of a thug. Any other time I might have been amused, but not at 3am. What worried me about going out to meet this guy in the middle of the night was that I was not sure I knew who he was. If he was who I thought, it was impossible to anticipate what could happen.

I turned off the freeway onto the Gilchrist exit ramp just as the storm predicted to blow in overnight began to pick up. The air, foul with the smell of industrial waste and diesel exhaust, carried the debris that littered the area into swirling clouds. Half a mile from the freeway, in an area of unmaintained warehouses and a large distribution center, I pulled into a parking space in front of Amy’s. A single globe blazed under a large reflector swung wildly on a wire suspended from the roof overhang. It cast grotesque shadows as it danced in the wind.  Except for it and the dim light coming from a small gridded window next to the front door, it was dark, and so quiet I could hear my pulse throbbing in my ears.

This was not a smart idea, I thought as I pushed the car door open and slid out from under the wheel. I really should have told someone where I was going. I pulled my phone from my purse and tapped in my own number to leave some kind of message in case anyone went out looking for me.

Vigilance on full alert, I moved carefully toward the door. Footsteps? I spun around. Nothing there. I knew there was someone lurking somewhere in the shadows, I could feel it. I sensed it. I smelt it, stale cigars, and sweat.

“Oh my God.” I tried to scream but my voice shook. “Where are you?”

I turned to run back to my car but a hand reached around me from behind and gripped my throat.


Thank you, Vatsal for the encouraging words.
I turned off the freeway... This paragraph is superb, not that all others are not good but this one in particular has the reader pulling up their collar against the rising storm, smelling disgusting waste and diesel, (I remember the dump and those smells from Bremerton) and frightening feelings in the dimly lit vacant lot. The mystery is there and just that small touch of violence to push me to the edge. Now I wish I was writing the next chapter, Joe. Excellent, as always.
Hi Joe, I'm reading through the serial to get a feel for what I want to write for c.8. The bar is set incredibly high and I am worried. I loved the description and the way you captured the atmosphere/ambience.I am very worried for Sarah now....(and for myself. How am I ever to follow such high standards of writing? A challenge lies before me. Great work!