Nerd In The Brain has tagged me to participate in a blog hop story, so I shall. Enjoy!
The story thus far:
Eli stumbled into the compartment, flush and out of breath, and took the only available seat next to an old woman and a child. After months of planning, he suddenly had a bad feeling about this and stood right back up again, but at the same time, the train started moving.
There was no going back. As if to accentuate the point, the jerk of the train starting thrust Eli into his seat. Was he doing the right thing? Was he doing the wrong thing for the right reasons? Eli didn’t really know. What he did know was that the old lady had fake teeth that hadn’t been cleaned in a while, and the child reminded him of all the scary movies he’d seen about children. But that was besides the point. Eli was on a mission. Kind of.
He cringed, wishing he had planned this trip differently. The train ride lasted a full hour, plenty of time for things to go wrong when split-second timing was needed.
A droplet of sweat beaded at the end of Eli’s reddened face as he tried to catch his breath. Luckily, the old woman seemed to be busy telling the child a long and rambling fairy story. She hadn’t even noticed her fellow passenger.
Eli meant to keep it that way.
The child Eli had noticed was Rory, who was on a “real-life Thomas the Train trip” with his Gramma. Eli was right to note that Rory looked a little scary. The poor child did look a lot like Chucky from the classic horror movie Child’s Play…but then maybe that could be said of any three-year-old with red hair and freckles.
Rory, normally the sweetest of all kids despite his devilish appearance, loved his Gramma. Today though, her lack of a smart phone and insistence that “banana you glad” was the punchline to that knock-knock joke about fruit didn’t play well with his preschool-aged attention span. Especially on this long trip. Instead, he turned his attention elsewhere…
“GRAMMA, WHO’S DAT MAN?” Rory exclaimed, using his “outside voice”, pointing directly at Eli.
THAT MAN RIGHT THERE GRAMMA! SEE? SEE THAT MAN?!
DAT MAN DARE, GRAMMA! SEE? SEE DAT MAN?!
That man was the conductor of the train and he had an announcement to make. The passengers gave him the solemnity and respect fairly due to any person wearing such an official uniform.
He coughed sternly and spoke rapidly: “There has been a minor delay and we’re going to disembark a little early while necessary repairs are made. We apologize for the inconvenience. Accommodations have been made for all passengers in the nearest town. We think you’ll find the quaint, quiet rhythm of Bubbleville to be your liking. The town is rich with, well– let’s call it history.”
Eli jumped when the conductor started to speak right behind him. At first he thought the kid had been pointing at him, which made him sweat, but the kid instead had pointed at the conductor.
The passengers started to leave the train, Eli followed reluctantly. He had no choice. He had heard of Bubbleville and its ‘rich history’. It was supposedly haunted with the ghosts of its founder Mr. Bubbles, a mean and miserly man and some of the people Mr. Bubbles had done wrong. Eli wondered if the legend was true. He hoped not. What he needed was a new plan, as his was not panning out.
Eli followed the rest of the passengers into the only hotel in Bubbleville. A dark, brooding place that looked more suited for nightmares than restful slumber.
A giant chandelier crashed into a thousand tiny pieces, sparkling with fire and mischief, and Eli, along with his fellow travelers, jumped and cried out in fear. It hadn’t landed on any one but had come close to squishing the little boy he had shared train compartments with. The child, for his part, had weathered the proximity of the disaster better than the rest.
Laughing, a rotund man dressed in a too-tight suit came forward from an alcove behind the reception desk. “Forgive our little pranks. Our guests, you see, often come with such trepidation that Mr. Bubbles is haunting around that we decided to play into their fears a bit. Just a bit of fun. See, look, feel, your tension is already easing, and now you’ll be able to relax more thoroughly than you would have otherwise.”
Eli was not more relaxed. He was, however, considering all of his potential exits from Bubbleville that might afford him the opportunity to play a trick on the manager before making his full departure. A rueful smile played across his face as he was shown to his room.
His smile vanished as the door to his room opened and a small ghost swooped down from the ceiling. It was too much. The train’s stop had completely ruined his plan, even if he were to rush out of town now he’d be too late. Here he was, worse off than before and in a fake haunted hotel to boot! Eli sighed and stomped off toward the shower. So long as he had a complimentary room he might as well make the most of it.
By the time he was ready for bed, a giant spider had been found in the bathroom, (sitting on top of the pink soap with the frighteningly cheerful face), growls echoed out from under the bed and he noticed a strange green glow outside his window. Eli collapsed on top of the bedspread (black, of course) as the events of the last days caught up to him. He lay too exhausted to even give an appropriate eye roll when the ghost floated down to sit on the bed next to him.
Eli thought of his ruined plans and groaned.
The ghost waved.
He tried to come up with a way forward and flung a pillow over his face.
The ghost moved closer.
“Now what?” He asked the room at large, and though it was muffled from the pillow on his face he heard someone say, “Eli?”
He flung the pillow off of his face and found the ghost staring at him.
The ghost smiled and gave him a thumbs up.
The ghost smiled again and said, “Can I help?”
Eli blinked. When the ghost failed to disappear, he blinked again, but slower this time.
Nope, still there. Apparently his day wasn’t planning on getting any easier as the hours rolled by.
The ghost on his part seemed quite unperturbed by the strangely blinking man before him and gave Eli an encouraging smile, like a patient teacher trying to coax a socially awkward preschooler into joining in on his first day of school.
“They sent me to help you,” the ghost offered helpfully after Eli failed to respond to his initial query. “They said you might need someone with my, um, special abilities to carry out your plan.”
“How thoughtful of them,” Eli managed to mumble before collapsing in a dead faint.
“Oh, thank goodness. It’s so much easier to maintain this form in here.”
“Hmmm? What? In where?” Eli muttered.
“In your mind, your subconscious, your dream-state…whatever you’d like to call it, of course. You passed out, and you’ve not yet returned to consciousness. Let’s take advantage of this time, shall we?”
Eli’s thoughts, obscured by thick veils of slow confusion, were struggling to untangle, but it seemed to him that the ghost had solidified into a more human-like configuration. After dragging his hand across his eyes in an attempt to clear his muddled vision, Eli peered at the ghost again. Curves and shadows collided, creating features that definitely belonged to a human face. Recognition crawled into Eli’s thoughts.
Eli blinked his eyes several times and shook his head in disbelief. “Surely it’s not…” he murmured. “Clay, is that you?” Eli asked, reaching out towards his army buddy.
“It’s me, Eli.”
“But you…how did you…I can’t believe this…” Eli said in a voice so quiet that he could barely hear it himself. He felt a tear slide down his cheek. “After all this time. And all you did. How?”
Clay held up a hand to quiet Eli. “Now’s not the time for reminiscing, old friend. There’ll be plenty of time for that soon enough. What I need you to do now is listen very carefully, as I’ll only be able to tell you this once.”
Eli tried to force away the dozens of thoughts flooding his brain so he could process what Clay was telling him. He pushed away thoughts of their training together, thoughts of holding Clay’s baby girl, thoughts of Clay pushing him out of enemy fire only to take three shots to his chest in the process.
“I know you think that this stop has ruined your plan–it hasn’t. This was necessary,” Clay said. “You’ll still make it in time, but that alone won’t be enough to carry it out. When you wake up, you’ll find what you need in a box under your bed. You’ll understand what to do with it when the time is right.”
Eli opened his mouth. “But what–”
Clay shook his head. “Take it and make your way to Rockford. If you get there before the week’s end, you just might be able to stop this. You’re the only one who can give them a chance.”
Eli watched as his friend’s face began contorting back to that of the ghost’s. With a jerk, he sat up on the bed, wide-eyed.
The contributors so far:
Fish of Gold
A Disquieted Mind
SVM & TB Stories
Excerpts From Nonexistent Books
To Breathe is to Write
The Matticus Kingdom
Behind the Willows
Never Trust a Jellyfish
Nerd in the Brain
Strong Enough To Break
The person I’d like to continue the story: Diana at Part-Time Monster.
The rules are:
Nano Poblano Blog Hop Basics:
- Wait until you are tagged, then add a new post on your blog with these rules, the story so far, and who’s been tagged.
- Title and tag the post as Nano Poblano Blog Hop Story 2015.
- Add at least one sentence to the story.
- Pick another Pepper from the blogroll to tag (preferably one who hasn’t already been tagged).
- Add a link to your chosen Pepper’s about page (so they get a notification that they’ve been tagged) to the tagged list below.
- Pass the story along within two days of getting tagged.