Monday, April 30, 2012

U_seless V_iolent W_eapons, X_ylophones, and Y_ellow Z_ephyrs

Yes I'm cheating...again!

BUT I have GOOD NEWS: As of today, I am officially a senior in college. Woohoo!! One more year! One more year! Do forgive my absence from this challenge. I have loved every second I have been able to spend with all of you, your amazing posts, and I'm looking forward to visiting people even after the challenge is over. There are still many, many papers to write (and I'm sure I'll fall short of any posting goals I may set for myself thanks to them).

However, here's the final installment of the crazy story I started back at "A". No, it won't be finished with this one post. Yes, I plan to take this and turn it into something "more". And YES I am forever thankful to each and everyone of you who have continued reading these sporadic posts and your comments have been encouraging. So THANKS! And -BEHOLD- The Final Post of the A-Z Challenge!!!

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Ima had been sitting in the parlor for hours. Staring. The clock on the wall tick-tocked against the silence that everyone left behind them as they left her alone. Alone. That was familiar. Comforting in a strange, empty way. Her father -and he was her father- was downstairs in this labyrinthine house working on some supposed "weapon of mass instruction" as he called it. What the hell was "mass instruction" anyway, she'd asked? Her father had mumbled something about teaching society a lesson, one that would require them to take notice of the violence and corruption inherent in the system or something like that. All she saw in that junkyard of a workshop was a pile of has-been child's toys and rusted ray guns. Useless. All of them.

She had a lot to think about. Val told her just this morning that she'd been with them for two weeks. Two weeks? Really? It seemed more like a black hole that sucked her very identity from her. She didn't know who she was anymore. She was trapped in a body that no longer fit. People floated in and out of the parlor; she scarcely paid them any attention. Except for Declan. He'd catch her attention regardless of any self-inflicted pity party or Greek tragedy she may feel she was currently living. And she hated him for it. Why did he have to be so nice all the time? Why couldn't they all just leave her alone and send her back home.

Greyson said home was here, now, wherever and whenever that was. He wouldn't say. He just looked at her over his spectacles, pursed his lips, and said "Soon". Yeah. Right. Soon as in never? Tomorrow? Next Boxing Day? Val was the only person who seemed real in this antique museum. Her incessant eating and tea drinking could somehow bring a slight smile to Ima's face; slight was about all she could manage without feeling her face would break. And speaking of Val, she was there, licking something off her fingers, sitting across from Ima, dressed in a pair of trousers, tweed vest and white, ruffled shirt.

"You're not here." She leaned back, propped her booted feet on the coffee table. "I understand, you know. I sat right where you are now, contemplating throwing myself off the top of the west tower."

"There's a west tower?"

Val didn't hear her. "But then I realized it wouldn't do any good. I'd just come back. That how it is with you. With me. With Greyson. At least for a little while."

"I don't understand."

"I don't either." Val put her feet down, leaned forward. "All I know is that we've been given a gift. A chance to redo things if they go wrong...terribly wrong. Though, that gift comes with a price: it won't last forever. We have to use our chances wisely. Think of each chance as the last. Live each one like that and you'll be ok."

"I wish I could believe that. That I'd be ok."

Val stood up. She grabbed Ima by both hands and pulled her to standing. "You will always be ok. Why? Because you're strong. Because you're here. If you weren't strong you wouldn't be here."

Ima walked across the room and tapped a rusted xylophone. The sound scraped against the ticking clock and made her shiver. "Yes, but where IS here?"

Val smiled. "That my dear is why I'm here." Val walked to one of the floor to ceiling windows and pulled the curtains back.

Ima squinted. She'd been strictly forbidden to look out any windows and even when she tried, the curtains refused to budge.

"Take a gander at that."

Ima blinked in the sunlight and walked slowly towards it. What she saw made her jaw drop open. The sky was a faded sort of brown, like a perpetual cloud of dust had settled in front of the sun. Where the sun was she couldn't say. It was shining and bathed the world in a strange, sepia light. It was like watching an old, silent film that someone tried to restore to color but failed in the most clashing way. Trees were tall and spindly; the grass looked crunchy and insubstantial. There was a fountain in the courtyard but it was cracked, bleeding vines, and sprouting weeds from each tier.

But what really caught her attention was what was parked on the crunchy lawn. Almost as big as the house and twice as tall was a blimp. Or what might be a blimp. She wasn't sure. It was a ghastly mustard yellow and shaped like a rocket ship from a 1950's space opera with fins and pointed nose. Resting on the ground was what she guessed to be the cabin. It was the same mustard yellow and looked more like a submarine than an air craft.

"It's a Zephyr," Val said as if that explained everything. "Rides the wind, or what passes as wind these days."

"Why is everything brown?"

"It's not. Some things are yellow and just the other day I saw a flower -a real flower!- and it was a sort of dusky orange."

Ima smiled and Val laughed. "Come on," She took the younger woman by the hand. "Let's go for a ride. We'll sort all this out. And don't worry." She looked down at Ima and Ima saw something she'd not seen before -ever- in all her life. A mother's compassion. "You will be ok."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Q_uizzical R_eparation and a S_urprising T_urn of events



The door closed behind her, leaving a hollow in her ears about as large as the one she felt in her mind. Declan had volunteered to join her but she adamantly refused. This was something she had to do alone. Besides, she wasn't quite sure what she would say if she really did meet her father.

Declan assured her he was there. Looking around, Ima wondered exactly where "there" was. It looked like a dungeon. Only it was well furnished with leather and tapestries and silk. The bars on the windows and shackles on the walls were the only indication that she was, indeed, in the dungeon of the enormous house.

"I told you it would be tomorrow before I could have another vial." A voice echoed off the stone walls.

Ima blinked. "Hello?"

A shuffling; then a thin man in a white coat appeared. He was wearing some sort of goggles that magnified his eyes to absurd proportions. There were at least six other lenses sticking out in all directions and his grey hair seemed to take its cue from the goggles. Ima frowned. No. This couldn't possibly be him.

"Who the hell are you?" The man asked, wiping his hands on his coat, smearing it with something green and vile and -

"I'm Imogene Ipswitch," She said, braver than she felt. "Who the hell are you?"

The man stopped wiping his hands. He took of the goggles and stared at her. "Emmy?"

A shudder went up her spine. Her father-and only her father- had ever been able to call her than without instigating a repulsed reaction. She looked at the floor, the ceiling, the framed pictures on the mantle above the-

Slowly she moved to the fireplace. A fire had been burning; she could still feel the heat. Something crunched beneath her feet but she didn't care. It was the pictures, or more precisely, one picture. Ima picked it up and held it out in front of her.

"Where did you get this?"

"I had it made."

"That's impossible."

"Why?"

"This is my father."

"Yes." He walked over to her and took the frame gently from her trembling hands. "And it's also me. A very, very long time ago."

Ima didn't really know what to do. It felt as if someone had kicked an ant hill inside her stomach. A hundred questions bubbled to the top of a thousand more. Where have you been? She wanted to scream. Why did you leave me? She wanted to demand. Why did you drive my mother mad? Instead of questions, she drew back her fist and hammered him in the stomach as hard as she could. The man reeled backwards, catching himself in a large, leather arm chair. As he gasped for breath, Ima balled her fists, ready to punch again if he tried anything crazy. Because he was crazy. That's what her mother had told her. Right before she ran off and joined the circus.

But her father didn't try anything crazy. He doubled over, clutched his stomach, and after about a minute he gasped, "I suppose I deserved that." He struggled to sit up straight. "Nice right hook, by the way. You take after your mother in that regard."

Ima blinked back the tears of anger and frustration and whispered that one question she'd been dying to ask him since she was three. "Why did you leave?"

"Oh Ima dear, I had to." He grimaced a smile. "You see, this," he looked around, "is where I belong."

"You belong with your family!"

"Yes. And I had every intention of coming back for you. But there was a rather unforeseen turn of events."

Ima knew this was coming. An excuse.

"You see, Greyson sent me to your time to collect some vital bits of information against some rather sinister characters. While I was there, I met your mother, fell head over heels, and tried to forget about Greyson and Marcus and this whole damned mess of a world. Unfortunately, the mess found me and I had to flee."

"Of course. Because if you didn't, we'd be in danger and you couldn't live with yourself if anything happened to us." Sarcasm dripped from Ima's lips. She was surprised it didn't pool up at her feet in one, sticky blot.

"Well, yes. You see, no one here knew I'd married or had a child. When I realized they'd found me, I knew the only thing to do was hide what they were looking for there, and come back here."

"And what were they looking for?"

The man who was her father stood and pointed to her neck. "Why the key you've been wearing since you were three. I gave it to you, you know. What did you think it opened? A diary?"

Ima pulled the chain from her blouse and held the strange key between her fingers. "I don't know what it goes to."

"Why do you still wear it?"

"Because it's all I have of you!"

He nodded.

"What-what does it go to?"

"It's the key to the universe, my daughter. The key to the universe."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Owls and Parliament




Good morning fellow A-Z-ers! And all you others who just happened to wander my way. I hope you're enjoying this tale so far. Honestly, it's taken on a life of its own and I'm not so sure it will be a tidy wrap up when we all roll past the finish line of letter Z. BUT! Don't let that dissuade you. Your response to this story has been overwhelming and I am humbled by the kind and positive comments I have received about the story itself, the characters, and the plot development. You could say this was an experiment to seek out confirmation that this story is the one I should be focusing on now (and all those other stories should take a number and get back in line). We all know how clamoring those stories can be! But enough chit-chat! On with the show!

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"Blast!" Val stormed through the front door, startling Ima and Declan who had just turned from the door with no knobs. "Hellfire, damnation and BLAST!"

If Val hadn't looked so angry, Ima would have laughed.

"Look at this!" She shoved the paper into Declan's face. He sputtered, took the paper and read aloud:

PARLIAMENT VOTES TO STOP FUNDING FOR REGENERATE PROGRAM. PRIME MINISTER MARCUS EDDELSTON TO UNVEIL NEW INVENTION!

Declan's eyes went wide. "This is a joke, right?"

Val scowled and snatched the paper back. She stormed away, her heels echoing in the cavernous foyer, down the hall, into the parlor where they all knew Greyson was sitting.

Ima and Declan looked at each other, looked down the hall.

"I have a bad feeling about this..." Declan murmured. He turned to Ima and gave her a brave smile, "And here I was about to show you where your father was!"

Ima shivered. "I'm not so sure I want to see him anymore. I mean...is he in this house?"

Declan shrugged. "Sort of. I mean, he's here he's just not...here."

"Come again?"

"It's confusing."

"Welcome to the story of my life."

"WHAT!" A voice boomed down the hall causing Ima to jump. Declan reached out and steadied her.

"And here's where all hell breaks loose."

Down the hall, the double doors to the parlor erupted open and Greyson practically billowed out like a cloud of black smoke during an oil fire. He was wearing a cloak which added to the illusion and was putting a top hat on his head. That took Ima a bit by surprise, why she wasn't sure, but again, if he hadn't looked so murderous, it would have been comical.

"I want you," he jabbed a gloved finger in Ima's face, "to stay here. Declan, don't let her out of your sight! VAL!"

Val followed shortly. "You bellowed?"

Ima blinked rapidly. Val had been wearing trousers when she'd burst through the door. She was now dressed in an elegant dress complete with leather gloves and a small hat perched atop her head. She was polishing off something from a china plate, which she promptly handed to her son. "You two stay. Here. In this house." She glared at her son. "I mean that last part."

"Aye captain."

Something swooped down from the rafters. Ima clutched her head and screamed, ducking to get out of the way of whatever it was she was certain was attacking her. An owl, huge and black rested ominously on Val's outstretched arm. "Pallas. I need you to take this to Professor Aidle." She tied a little vial to the owl's leg, stroked its chin and let it fly out the front doors.

"Messenger owls?" Ima murmured as Val and Greyson exited, slamming the doors shut: the doors with no knobs.

"They beat carrier pigeons and they're much more intimidating."

Ima only nodded and let Declan lead her down the hall, to a door she'd never seen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

News

Dear awesome readers, fellow A-Z participants and regular followers:

I have not abandoned you. My inbox is overflowing with comments and I am hanging my head in shame at having not read them and responded. I'm down to my last two weeks of this school term and the work load has increased to epic proportions (no joke...I'm writing the equivalent of 5 papers a week!). I will read and respond to your comments AND return the visits!

Cross my heart and hope to be chased by zombie hoards.

Affectionately,
Paper Swamped in Georgia

PS: A wee chapter to keep your interest peaked :D

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"I believe this involves you, my dear," Greyson folded his ever present paper and slid it across the table at Imogene.

She'd been under virtual house arrest for a week now and no matter how hard she tried, no one would allow her outside, even though all that surrounded the enormous house was grass, trees, and several hundred rose bushes.

Ima was still trying to adapt to the oddities of the people around which she found herself surrounded. Greyson would join them for meals and then disappear, not to be seen again until tea. Val was always bustling about, moving at an astonishingly fast rate, something to eat forever in one of her elegant hands. She wore spectacles not unlike Greyson's and kept her hair pulled back and stacked on top of her head. Ima thought again and not for the last time that Val would be beautiful if she allowed herself to be. And then there was Declan-the guy with the alarmingly beautiful smile that made her feel like her nose was too big, her feet were turned sideways and her hands had absolutely no place to rest. Right now, he was looking at her from two chairs down the massive oak table, his grey eyes glancing from paper to her face.

Feeling a blush creeping to her cheeks, she quickly pulled the paper to her and began skimming. Suddenly, her eyes stopped and she backtracked.

"What?" She murmured and read again, slowly, her mouth moving with every other word.

"What is it?" Val asked, buttering her third scone and pouring more tea. "Greyson, you didn't give her bad news did you?"

Greyson said nothing; he peered over his glasses at Ima.

Imogene frowned. "So they think I'm dead? Everyone at home thinks I'm dead? You could have let me call someone and tell them I was going into hiding or whatever it is you want to call this." She gestured around her as if that explained everything.

"Who would you have called?"

Ima's mouth moved but no sound came out. Who would she have called? Her mother was now on the road with some traveling show and she would have only said, "That's nice dear" if she'd received the call at all. She had no other relatives, at least none that she knew of. Tears suddenly sprang to her eyes and she shoved herself away from the table.

"Ima!" Declan called after her.

"You are an ass, you know that?" Val said glaring at Greyson over her glasses.

"So you inform me daily."

Declan left the table and went after Ima.

"Leave me alone!" She shouted as soon as she'd realized he was following her. "Just leave me alone." Ima went straight to the front door and found them locked. Worse than that, there were no door nobs. She went for the windows on either side of the doors but there were no latches. In frustration she banged her fists on the doors and screamed. Declan put a hand on her shoulder and she turned on him.

"Leave me alone!" She screamed and began pounding at him, sobbing, not caring if she looked like a raging hyena.

Declan was completely unbothered by her outburst. "I can take you to him."

"Shut up!" She crumpled at his feet and continued sobbing. "Just shut up and leave me alone. All of you! Kidnap me and lock me up! How do I know YOU didn't send those ninja guys?"

"You don't." Declan knelt in front of her. "Greyson is, as my mother so delicately put it, and ass. He has no regard for anyone but himself. And trust me, Mother has given him several earfulls about it."

Ima sniffed and shoved the tears off her nose.

"Mother has a way with him I don't understand. No one does, actually but..." He stopped rambling.

"Who can you take me to?"

"Your father."

He pulled a handkerchief from his jacket pocket. "Here." He helped her stand up and dabbed the handkerchief on her face. "That's what should have been done in the first place. Greyson knows he's sick with worry about you."

"Greyson said he didn't know where my father was."

"Greyson is a liar and a selfish-" Declan took a deep breath. "Of course he knows where your father is. He put him there."

"Put him where?"

"Prison."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Keys, Lamplight and Marcus

Hello A-Z Challenge world!! School papers have been pushed aside to bring you this overdue post in the ongoing saga that has become my challenge theme :D Enjoy! And, as always, thank you for stopping by and reading. I PROMISE I'll return the favor. ~Jen



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"So tell me about this key."

Imogene was sitting in a parlor, across from Greyson who was reading the paper and ignoring her.

"What key?"

"You and Val both have mentioned a key."

"We have?"

Imogene walked over and pulled the paper down. He looked up at her, over his glasses. She was serious. He could see that much.

Greyson folded the paper, placed it in his lap. He took off his glasses, polished them with the handkerchief he continually produced from thin air, put the glasses back on and said:

"The key your father gave you before he left."

Imogene blinked, stumbled back to her chair. "My father didn't leave me anything except debt, hunger, and a mother who is more than a little nutty."

Greyson, Imogene was learning, had the annoying habit of raising one dark eyebrow in an attempt to make whomever he was disagreeing with feel like a complete ass.

"Don't look at me like that! You weren't there! You were locked up in this palatial Eden while people like me were starving and watching their mother sell herself every weekend so you could have food on the table for another meal!" Ima's fists were curled, digging into her palms. Tears had annoyingly sprung to her eyes, out of the pain her fingernails were inflicting she told herself.

"That's right," Greyson said, "I've never known hunger or pain. No-" he looked around at the impeccably decorated room, drowned in warm afternoon light from a sun Imogene had not seen in three days. "I don't know what it's like to lose the people I love ,to watch them fall apart, to watch them die, literally, because of choices I've made." He leaned forward and Imogene was shocked at the look of sorrow she saw on his usually impassive face. "I don't know what it's like to kill the only person I've ever truly loved."

Ima sat very still. Greyson rang a bell and from the shadows a butler appeared. He lit three gas lamps and drew the curtains, then disappeared. Greyson strode across the room and picked up a picture. It was the picture Imogene had brought with her. "Your father was a broken man when he found me. Broken from what he'd been required to do." He walked to her, gave her the photograph. "He's never fully recovered."

"You know my father?"

Greyson gave her what passed for a laugh. "You might say that. Your father is the reason I'm here, locked up in this palatial Eden away from all sin and sorrow."

Ima looked away, slightly ashamed of what she'd said. "Is he here?" She whispered, afraid of the answer.

"No. Not any more." Greyson sighed and returned to his chair. "No, to find your father, you have to talk to Marcus."

Ima was tired of all these added rabbit trails. "Who the hell is Marcus?"

"My brother. And the man responsible for the Reanimated who stormed your home and attempted to murder you."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

H elp! I 'm J inxed

-letter combining for the A-Z Challenge is perfectly legal in six different states-



(For the A-Z Challenge, I'm posting snippets from a current story idea, each chapter title corresponding with the letter of the day. Thanks for reading and enjoy!)

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Ima -for that's what she told them she liked to be called- sat very still while the man named Greyson tried to explain to her what was going on. It occurred to her that he wasn't exactly being all that truthful, but at least he was trying.

That handsome guy Declan was sitting across from her, sipping tea as if the current conversation was about the weather and not about creatures in black who were really reanimated corpses. Whenever she looked over at him, he's get that gorgeous grin and wink at her, causing her to blush and feel even more awkward than she already felt.

Val kept leaving and returning with scones. Blueberry. Always blueberry. Twice she offered one to Ima; twice Ima declined. She still wasn't one hundred percent certain she wasn't dreaming...or being held hostage.

"But what does this all have to do with me?" Ima asked when Greyson took a breather from his tale of reanimated bodies and "modern Prometheuses" or whatever it was he was currently blabbing about.

Greyson blinked behind his glasses and looked at her like she was stupid.

"Oh Greyson, play fair." Val licked the crumbs from her fingers and poured herself a cup of tea from the pot her son was consuming. "As much as you want to believe that Josef told his little girl everything, you're incredibly wrong!" At this Val burst out laughing. "In fact, you owe me forty quid! Ha!"

Greyson rolled his eyes, didn't share in her laughter. Declan on the other hand was trying not to splutter in his tea at his mother's excitement.

"What are they talking about?" Ima asked the one sympathetic soul in the entire room.

Declan shook his head, "Mum made a bet with Greyson that your father did not inform you of anything before he left. Declan thought otherwise."

"My father left me and my mother when I was three years old. Thanks to him I've been carted all over the south east while my mom followed some stupid traveling circus. We could barely afford food before I turned twelve! Why the hell should I care what my father did or did not tell me?"

Ima was suddenly aware of three sets of eyes watching her.

"He told you nothing?" Declan asked.

"He left you when you were three?" Declan frowned.

"Sounds like another scumbag I know," Val murmured.

"Yes, I did leave her when she was three," another voice joined them from the shadows. "No, I didn't tell her anything, for her own safety. And no, madam, I am most certainly not like that other scumbag you know."

Ima frowned when a tall, rather large man appeared in the corner of the room. He too was dressed as if part of a Victorian play and he was smoking a pipe. He'd aged quite a bit from the photo Ima had managed to grab when Val whisked her away, but there was no denying who he was.

"Hello Ima dear. You are more lovely than I could have hoped for. I'm your father. And it's about time I explained some things to you."

"Great," Imogene sighed. "Mom was right. I am jinxed."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Greyson

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and a very happy Easter. Forgive my delay in reading and commenting on your challenge blog posts. I had two papers due this weekend and they took precedence. Hopefully this week won't be as hectic. Thanks so much for reading!


(My theme is an on-going story, each chapter title being a word starting with the day's letter of the alphabet. The word will either be used in the tale itself, or I'll use some form of its definition. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by! ~Jen)

Imogene found herself staring up at a vaulted ceiling that was most definitely not her own. Her body began to thaw and she shook off the feeling that something was crawling under her skin. Just as she was beginning to think she was having a really, really weird dream, two sets of eyes gazed down at her. One set - the blue one - belonged to Val. The other -hazel with flecks of gold- were completely unfamiliar but not necessarily unpleasant.

"Imogene?" Val asked, taking her by the hand and easing her up to sitting. "Are you alright? How do you feel? Are you hungry?"

"Mum, just because you're always hungry, doesn't mean everyone else is."

Val waved this deep voice off with the wave of a hand but Imogene turned to look at whoever had spoken. It was the owner of the hazel eyes.

He smiled, an oddly familiar smile and stuck out one of his hands. "Declan Morningside. I assume you've already met my mother."

Imogene took his hand lightly, a frown forming on her face. "Your mother?" She turned to look at Val who was picking at something on her skirt.

Val smiled -that's why Declan's smile looked familiar- "Yes. My son. I know. I look too young to have a son his age, right?"

Imogene nodded slightly.

"Come on," Declan took both her hands in his and helped her stand up. "There we are. The sofa would be much more comfortable." He led her over to a leather sofa, brass studs outlining its plush form. Imogene sat down and stared at the room around her. It was too much to take in. She'd fallen into some film set, she was sure of it. Val was still wearing her Victorian clothes and Declan -her son!- was wearing what could only be described as the clothes of a well-to-do gentleman from an Oscar Wilde play. He even had a waistcoat with a pocket watch hanging out of one pocket, just like his mother.

Suddenly, to her embarrassment and odd relief, Imogene started to cry. Declan sat on one side of her, Val on the other.

"Would somebody please just tell me what's going on?"

Val and Declan looked at one another and Val nodded. Her son got up and walked across the room, knocked gently on a door and waited. When the door opened, a gentleman walked out and Imogene found herself gaping through her tears. Again, the Wilde-ian costume. Again with the pocket watch. This man, however, was wearing white gloves, had a collar that fastened just below his chin like Dracula might wear. He had pale skin, dark hair, and darker eyes framed by round, wire framed glasses. He looked to be the same age as Val, but whatever age that was, was hard to tell.

"Hello my dear. Imogene is it? A pleasure." He smiled and gave her a slight bow. "My name is Greyson." He pulled a chair over to face the sofa and sat. "Now tell me, what would you like to know first?"

Imogene sniffed. Her mind raced through clouded questions. Declan had returned to her left side and Val was polishing a pair of spectacles to her right. Imogene, hands trembling, looked up at Greyson and in a whisper asked. "Am I dead?"

With a smile Greyson answered, "Oh no. You're not dead. In fact, you about to discover that you are more alive than you could possibly imagine."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Frizzgig


(My theme is an on-going story, each chapter title being a word starting with the day's letter of the alphabet. The word will either be used in the tale itself, or I'll use some form of its definition. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by! ~Jen)

Before Imogene could question Val about what she meant by "wrong time", an odd noise caught their attention. It sounded like someone hissing, a wheezing, Voldemort of a sound that made Imogene's skin crawl and Val's shoulders stiffen.

"Situation has changed." Val whispered into what looked like a hat pin. "I'm bringing her now."

"What? Bringing me? Where?" Imogene backed away from Val, shaking her head.

"I'm not asking your permission. I'm telling you, either you leave now, with me, or you face the Reanimated on your own."

"The what?" The way Val said Reanimated made Imogene's skin crawl even more than the hissing which, by the way, was getting louder. "I can't."

Val's glance said she didn't care. "Anything you can't possibly live without?"

Val pulled on a pair of leather gloves. Imogene later recalled that they were the color of a camel and looked very expensive. At the moment, however, she was looking frantically around her second story bedroom for a way of escape.

Something in Val's hand was glowing and all at once the air became thick and clammy. Imogene screamed as Val became insubstantial, transparent; she screamed louder when she did the same. Just as Val disappeared in a silent supernova, just as the hissing produced a cloud of noxious gas, just as Imogene herself lit up with the intensity of an about to blow street light, she grabbed the one thing she knew she could never live without.

A picture. A sepia photograph of her father sitting painfully erect with an enormous dog at his feet. In spidery handwriting across the bottom was one word "Frizzgig". Imogene had just enough time to gasp as a crowd of the black clad figures oozed into her room and she saw her reflection in the mirror vanish in violent shade of red.

ENOUGH



(My theme is an on-going story, each chapter title being a word starting with the day's letter of the alphabet. The word will either be used in the tale itself, or I'll use some form of its definition. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by! ~Jen)

**forgive the lack of post yesterday. life, as they say, got in the way **

She screamed it. Standing in the middle of her apartment, Imogene had had it.

"Enough!"

The woman stopped her rummaging through the cupboards, spun around and stared. She didn't seem at all shocked by the outburst.

"Enough." Imogene wrapped her arms around her in a frail attempt to defend herself from the strangeness that had recently become her life. "Who are you? What do you want? Why did those ... people shoot me! I've never done anything to anybody! Except for that time I stole that garden gnome, but that was in the sixth grade and I had to do it or Tina Windstead would beat me down into the concrete every day at-"

Surprisingly strong, the woman gripped Imogene's shoulders. "My name is Val Morningside." Her voice was soft this time, not aristocratic, not dripping with sarcasm. "I cannot hope to explain everything to you. But I know someone who can. I'm here to take you to him."

Imogene shook her head and shrugged out of Val's grip. "I don't want to go anywhere. I want to stay ..." she looked around her. The apartment wasn't home. It was where she slept, where she fled the "real world" and her horrible job and all the people around her that just didn't get it.

"What don't they get?"

Imogene blinked.

"You said, 'They just don't get it'. What don't they get?"

Imogene had not realized she'd said anything out loud. She took a deep breath, fighting the urge to cry. Nothing -nothing- had gone right since her mother left. Not that anything had gone right before her mother left.

Val smiled , briefly, and said, "You feel out of place and over whelmed."

Imogene stared out the window, nodded.

"I understand. I've been there. And I promise you, if you come with me, that can be fixed too."

"You can fix me?" Imogene turned to look at Val. "Me? That's what's wrong you know. Me."

"Balderdash! There's nothing wrong with you at all!" Val turned and walked toward Imogene's bedroom. "You're just stuck in the wrong time, that's all." She turned and winked. "Just like I was."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Danger



(My theme is an on-going story, each chapter title being a word starting with the day's letter of the alphabet. The word will either be used in the tale itself, or I'll use some form of its definition. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by! ~Jen)

She could feel it in her gut. The gut that was still mildly burning from gun shot wounds was telling her something was wrong. Imogene had learned to trust her gut, ever since she failed to do so in third grade and that kid got hit by a truck.

The coffee had not treated her well and she'd been lying away in bed for the past two hours listening to the ceiling fan. Now all her nerves were on alert and it wasn't just the caffeine.

Someone was in her apartment.

Again.

Thankful her mother had insisted she sleep with a baseball bat next to her bed, Imogene clutched the old wooden thing and eased her way to her bedroom door. Yes, someone was most definitely in her apartment and they were making themselves at home in her kitchen.

Frowning, choking the bat so hard she'd never get a decent swing out of it, Imogene crept into her kitchen, careful to avoid the spot in the center of the living room that would let out a loud groan if stepped upon. She could hear someone clanking dishes around on the counter. And was that the tea kettle beginning to sing?

As she leaned into the kitchen door, what she saw confused her more than it alarmed. A woman, dressed in what appeared to be late Victorian garb, was brewing tea and eating a scone. A blueberry scone. Imogene's favorite.

Imogene did the only thing she could do at a moment like this:

"What are you doing?"

The woman turned around and smiled. She actually had the nerve to smile. She licked the crumbs off her fingers and pushed her glasses up her long yet elegant nose.

"Ah! Good. I don't have to wake you. Hate doing that. So intrusive."

"Intrusive? You're rummaging through my cabinets! What are you doing here? Who are you?" Imogene gripped the bat tighter (if that was possible) and took the best batting stance she could conjure up at 3 am.

"Put that thing down. What are you, a barbarian? Sit. Tea will be ready shortly."

Imogene was too tired, too confused, too annoyed to disobey. She sat, bat in her lap, and watched the strange women make tea and put scones on two plates. The woman brought it all over to the table and sat across from Imogene.

"I've come to warn you that you're in danger."

Imogene just stared.

"Those men will return and they'll come with nastier weapons than firearms."

Her accent was British and the way she talked: it was like something out of a Dickens' novel. Only not as annoying.

Imogene just nodded.

"Drink your tea, dear. It will help to calm the nerves."

She obeyed.

Surprisingly, it did. She felt the warmth running through her, all the way to her stomach, right to where the dull burn was. Suddenly it was gone.

"What is this?"

"Tea." The women took a bite of scone. She sat ramrod straight. Imogene thought she could be beautiful if she tried but her hair was tied back a bit too tight, like an old-time school teacher. "Now then." She sat her cup down with a clink. "Do you have the key?"

"Key?" Imogene frowned. "What key."

"Oh dear. It IS as bad as I thought. I told him but no, he wouldn't listen. Never does..." The woman stood up with a swish of skirts. "You need to pack."

"Pack. What? I'm not going anywhere."

"You are unless of course you wish to die." The light from the kitchen gleamed in her glasses. "Again."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Conundrum


(My theme is an on-going story, each chapter title being a word starting with the day's letter of the alphabet. The word will either be used in the tale itself, or I'll use some form of its definition. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by! ~Jen)

Imogene sat, mug of coffee between her still trembling hands. Kyle the guy at the counter, thought it was job stress. That's what she always told him. Why should she disillusion him now? His life was normal. HE was normal. The big question in her mind now was, was SHE normal?

Normal people don't get gunned down in their homes.
Normal people don't get shot in the stomach (TWICE!!), get up, and shake it off.
Normal people don't have weird, ninja assassin types rummage through their apartment while they lay bleeding out on the rug.
A rug that belonged to the apartment that was now stained for all eternity with blood. HER blood.

Imogene's head hit the counter hard.

"Hey, it can't be that bad," Kyle the coffee guy said.

Imogene laughed. Almost.

"No I guess not. I could be being stalked by ninja assassins and get shot twice in the stomach."

She looked up. Kyle blinked. "That would at least be different."

She blinked as he walked away. Different. Yes. That was one way of looking at it. She started twirling the necklace she always wore; a necklace, her mother told her, was given by her father just before he left. He left, so her mother told her, because he had to.

Yeah. Right.

She took a long slurp of coffee. Maybe she just dreamed it. Maybe the stress of her job really was getting to her and she imagined the whole thing. She could believe that, maybe, if it wasn't for the dull burning in her gut and the massive blood stain on the carpet.

Or the faint memory of someone -not a ninja assassin- helping her off the ground and helping her to the sofa. Someone tall who asked her about a key.

What key?

She twirled her necklace once more, tucked it under her shirt, finished her coffee and left. Something told her they'd be back. Something told her she had to get the blood off the carpet before her lease was up in June. And something else, something faintly reminiscent of her mother's voice, told her that her father had something to do with it all.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Balderdash!


(My theme is an on-going story, each chapter title being a word starting with the day's letter of the alphabet. The word will either be used in the tale itself, or I'll use some form of its definition. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by! ~Jen)

"Balderdash!"

"I beg your pardon."

"You heard me."

He looked over his paper, the rim of his glasses. "I take it you're agitated."

"Agitated? That's an understatement. You saw her. You saw what they did to her."

"Yes." He folded the paper and looked at her. "Did she see you?"

"I don't think so. She was too busy trying to figure out why she wasn't dead. I managed to get her upright before she began mumbling about her father."

He nodded. "I see. And the key?"

"Still where it belongs." She smoothed her skirt. Looked at her reflection in the glass. "We're going to have to tell her."

"Who?" He was back to reading his paper.

"The bloody queen. Imogene! Pay attention!"

"Easy, Lil. You'll ruffle that serene expression you're known for."

Lil's mouth flapped open several times before she stormed over to him. Instead of ripping the paper out of his hands like she'd intended, she took his scone -hot, buttered and blueberry: her favorite- and left.

"You'll have to tell her you know." He called after her.

"Balderdash!" He'd made her drop the scone.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

And so...it begins!



IT'S HEEEEEEERRRRRRRE!

The A-Z Challenge! Unless you've been curled up under a mountain, breathing fire and guarding stolen treasure, you know that today is not only a day during which people everywhere get to play mean-spirited and often hilarious pranks on people - it's also the start of the A-Z Challenge. And if by some bizarre change you HAVE been curled up under a mountain, breathing fire and guarding stolen treasure, go HERE and find out what you've been missing :D

I'm doing something a bit different with my A-Z. I'm going to write a story, ongoing, with each chapter being a word from the days letter. I claim no great works of literature, just good old fashioned what's-going-to-happen-next fun! Or mayhem. Or terror. Depending on my mood for the day. Enough rambling! On with the SHOW!
_______________________________________________________________________


AMALGAM

Imogene Ipswich knew she was different. She knew she was a mix of several different things. For example, her father had been a scientist, or so she'd been told. Her mother? A burlesque dancer, but who was she to judge? Her father abandoned her and her mother when Imogene was three. She didn't know him. Didn't want to. And her mother had done everything she could to provide a decent living for them.

That was before her mother ran off with the sword swallower at the local circus. No joke. A sword swallower. Imogene came home from her job at the Wing Ranch one afternoon to a hastily scribbled note on the dining room table and an envelope with $5,000. "Here's enough for a few month's rent," her mother wrote. "I love you Emmy," the nickname made her cringe, "but life is short!"

That was it. Nothing more. Fine. Who cares? Imogene didn't. She was just fine being alone, working seven days a week for minimum wage and tips from the lewd businessmen who worked at city hall. She hated them, but they tipped well, especially if she batted her eyes and acted like a complete brainless moron.

Brainless moron she was not. But that will have to wait because at the present moment, Imogene is slumped against the wall, facing her front door. She watching in detached fascination as her own blood seeps through a gunshot wound in her stomach. The last thoughts she thinks before the door bursts open (again) is, "Why on earth did those guys shoot me?", "What were they looking for?", and "Why am I not dead?"

...