This week’s prompt words are:
‘I do’ :: crockery :: surreal :: torch :: capsule
“Do you understand these terms as I’ve explained them to you?”
Behind him she put the crockery away, while the fire crackled in the small fireplace. He searched my face for confirmation and seemed to find me satisfactory. I swallowed when he looked away. I could do this. I could do this.
The evening had been one leap of faith after another. Meet the contact in the coffee bar. Follow him to this house, to this room, where he made me repeat the message over and over under it was word perfect. His wife filled me with over strong tea, compensating for the lack of food.
I thought again about the message. It was a random stream of English words that I didn’t understand but could repeat phonetically if I heard the catchphrase. I had one hour to meet with the other side. After an hour and a half the guards would come around that part of the underground canal again. If I was caught, I wouldn’t even be able to answer questions, just look like a bumbling tourist.
It turned nine o’clock. I left the house and walked quietly to the marketplace. When there was no one around I went down the stone steps into the darkness. There, just where they said it would be, was the torch I could carry along the way (if I had been stopped with it on me I would have been picked up). I followed the path exactly as described, my heart beating. I’m not afraid, I told myself. I’m not. I’m not.
At the spot he was waiting. He was scared, sweating. He hissed at me: “You’re late!” But this wasn’t the code word. I didn’t say anything to him, just stood looking at him. My hands were in my pockets, and I held the capsule in my fist. A moment, and it would be over. A moment, and I’d be over. What was he going to say? What would happen? I said nothing, just waited.
He gave the password. Time started again. I felt my shoulders relax, felt myself breathe, and gave the response.
In a moment, the message was given. We went our separate ways. By eleven I was at home, safe. Getting ready for my classes the next day. The capsules were on my bedside table, next to my reading glasses. I looked at them and thought, “My life is surreal.”
Love it! Absolutely brilliant. Such a sense of tension, and of the narrator’s life hanging by a thread, which is in total contrast to the final paragraph, and the minutiae of her daily existence. I could see it playing in my mind like a movie; I think good writing always has that effect. 🙂
This is *really* good stuff. I’m so glad you decided to write a blog based on my suggestion! *Preens*
Did you put a link back to this story on the CAKE webpage? Go on, go on!
That last line is jarring. But it did come out as I intended to. This was a marvelous idea, Sinead, thank you.
You did a great job of creating mystery and suspense and drew the reader in from the start. The sense of incresing jeopardy keeps the pace moving nicely. Love the phrase “He gave the password. Time started again.” I also like your use of the prompts. Well done.
Thank you so much for reading this, and for taking the time to comment. It was written in a rush without any real editing, so your words are even more kind!
Like Elaine, I wasn’t sure who the ‘she’ was, because I was first trying to identify (as you do with all stories) whether it was in third or first person. This made me think third, but then the following sentences proved that the story is actually in first person. I had to re-read a couple of times.
I love the intensity, and I really want to know what is going on, but I am happy with not being told. Leaves me to stew. I also like how life has resumed afterwards.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read it, and to leave your comments afterwards. I did this in about two and a half minutes and I did miss making the first paragraph clearer, just as you say; will reread next time!
Gripping mini-thriller. Looking forward to more.
so what happened next? tell us, tell us now. pur-leeze?