The Middle 500

Someone (actually Arin at http://thereadersvault.blogspot.co.nz/ ) has kindly continued my first 500 words of a story I posted recently (about someone being held hostage and taken to their library for some reason (what reason, we don’t quite know!). So here’s their continuation…I wonder if I should call this story something now…but i’m not sure what.

I’ll post the first bit of my story again, followed by Arin’s 🙂

By Caitlin:

Do you know what it feels like when you are about to die? Everything slows down and then stops. All the life, all the colours drain out of everything. It’s like you’re trying to conserve every last bit of energy into just keeping yourself alive, to keep your heart pumping and your mind thinking. You go into survival mode: sounds disappear until all you hear is your heart and your breath as loud as a hurricane in your ears.

Trust me, I know. I’ve been almost dead more times than I have fingers and toes.  And I don’t recommend it. It’s not as if I try to get into situations that get me almost dead, it’s just… I guess you could say it’s my hobb-.

I hear a familiar click right next to my left ear; the small sound that has such a huge meaning – the sound of a gun’s safety being pulled back. Slowly, calmly, I put down my pen. Without turning my head, I begin to stand from the Adirondack chair where I’d been enjoying a rare peaceful morning on my deck devoid of any life – I do not have a green thumb – above the Pacific.

“Don’t move,” the voice says quiet but firm. At first I’m surprised. It’s not any voice I was expecting, going through my mental Rolodex of the long list of people who want me dead.

I try not to sound like I’m on the verge of a laugh. I swallow once, hoping to quash the offending sound, and try to sound serious and even as I stop in a squat, half sitting, half standing.

“What do you want me to do?” I ask, plainly, removing all traces of amusement from my voice.

The voice behind me makes an exasperated noise. “Okay, you can move, but only do what I say.”

I try to suppress a smile, grateful my face is turned away from my captor. She sounds unsure, nervous. I don’t recognize her voice – I’m usually good with recognizing who it is that wants to hurt me.

“Okay,” I say agreeably. “Can I at least stand up?”

There is a pause. I can almost sense eyes being rolled. “Yes.”

I straighten slowly. “Now what?”

Another pause, longer this time. “Take us to the library.”

Us? A shiver races down my spine. I mentally shake my head. I hadn’t been on alert. I’d been too busy writing.

“The library?” I repeat, confused.

Your library,” the woman says, irritation and impatience tingeing her words.

“Why?”

“That’s not important. All you need to know is you have a gun to your head.”

I laugh, short and sharp. “That’s nothing new to me.”

I hear the another small click that causes the hair on my arms to rise involuntarily and I raise my hands defensively. “Okay, okay,” I say, leading the way into the kitchen and down the hall.

The double doors to the library already stand open. I stop and gesture inside. “Ladies first.”

***

By Arin:

“Don’t turn around or you’re dead,” she warns, the muzzle of a gun touching the small of my back.  “Just keep walking.”

I heard the helicopter as soon as I entered the hallway.  But there’s no one else in the library; only the shattered glass of the skylight looking accusingly at me like an abandoned child.  I hadn’t heard it breaking, explosive though that must have been.  It’s reinforced and triple thickness.  They must have done it when I was out getting groceries.  Dangling through the window is a wire rope attached to a hoist inside a large helicopter.  It seems my captors were assured of victory, over tiny solitary me.

I eye the heavy bronze lamp to my right.  My aim is pretty good, but it seems unlikely I’ll manage to use just one implement to stave off both of them in quick succession.

The unseen gun-wielders – there were two sets of footsteps behind me as I padded down the hall – didn’t even let me put my shoes back on.

Glad they are behind me, I smile to myself as a plan forms in my head.

I say in as plaintive a voice as I can manage, “There’s glass all over the carpet.  And in case you haven’t noticed, you didn’t let me put my shoes on.  Do you really want blood all over your helicopter?”

I can almost hear their mental cogs whirring.  This is an unexpected question.

I’m used to being unpredictable.  It comes with practice.  I just have to think with my captors’ mind-set.  When your hobby is to create bloodthirsty internet games, you learn to outwit murderers.  I have changed my identity often enough, and moved countries whenever they’ve found me: mercenaries, dead gamers’ relatives, etcetera.  I just didn’t expect they’d find me so soon in my temporary New Zealand hideaway.  That’s why I’m unprepared, no bullet-proof vest on and no loafers.

“Let him get his feet bloody,” says a gruff male voice.

“Captain won’t want his precious helicopter bloodied,” she replies.

The male groans.  “Okay, I’ll get his bloody shoes.”

I wonder if they will winch me, James-Bond style, to a mother ship, or to an airplane to whisk me away.  The alternative is unthinkable; they wouldn’t just shoot me.

I’m too far inside the library to whisk around, lift up the lamp and thump the unsuspecting assassin on her head.  Besides, her cries will bring her partner back, and then I will be shot through with glass fragments or peppered with bullets, or both.  That option does not appeal.

This lot has managed not only to find me but to stake out my small pad.  That must have been why I’ve been hearing helicopters overhead lately.  And I thought they were rescuing boats.  The feeling of being violated makes me angry. I’m dangerous when I’m angry.

The loafers are thrown at my feet.  They will be very useful with heels inbuilt with steel for the very purpose of kicking people where it hurts.

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