The Mysterious Arboretum (7)

By Meg Sorick

Last year, I started writing a story for the 10-year-old daughter of a friend. I hope you enjoy it. Find previous chapters here.

Chapter 7

“Mr. V! Did you see that?” Liam asked excitedly. “Look!”

From the depths of the forest flew a tiny winged creature. The teacher and his students instinctively ducked as the flier zoomed over their heads. After a loop, Pella came to a hovering stop in front of Mr. Vogelsinger.

“Teacher!” she cried. “Sandy is in trouble! The professor has her. You need to follow me!”

Mr. Vogelsinger was rendered speechless and stood staring at her with his mouth agape. Pella motioned for him to follow and flew a little way in the direction she’d come. “Please!”

Mr. Vogelsinger shook his head to clear it. “Now hold on just a minute.” He held his hands up for her to stop. “I think you’d better explain…. “ He paused, struggling to wrap his brain around what he was seeing. “You’d better explain… everything.”

“There’s no time!” she cried.

The teacher frowned. “I am not following after a…. “ he waved his hands in her direction. “What are you?”

Pella sighed. “All right, here’s our story…” And she quickly relayed the tale of what had happened to her and her unit as they traveled through this part of the universe. Finishing by explaining how the professor and trapped them to make them do his bidding. “Now will you come with me?”

Mr. Vogelsinger looked skeptical. “I don’t understand. With all your abilities, why couldn’t you free yourself? Surely if you can maintain the habitats of this arboretum, you could move a simple cage to free yourselves.”

“If it were a simple cage, that would be true. But the professor has it rigged with a small explosive device. The explosive device itself is in a container that has a pad that the professor uses to turn it off and on again when he brings us supplies.” She flew in a circle, becoming more agitated. “I’ve tried using the pad myself but it doesn’t work for me. I think maybe another human has to open it. I couldn’t take a chance that I’d set off the device before my friends could get free.”

“Hmm, it might be a fingerprint reader,” Mr. Vogelsinger mused. “If that’s the case, the professor will be the only one who can open it, then.” He cleared his throat. “So that’s what you were hoping to get my student to do for you? Open the container? Good gracious! Sandy could’ve blown herself to smithereens!”

“Well, the professor has her now! We have to hurry!”

This time the teacher sprang into action. “All right, listen up guys. Stay within sight of me but stand back. I can’t take a chance on losing you in this crazy place but I also can’t take the chance on getting any of you hurt. Follow me!”

The class and their teacher hurried to keep pace with the flying alien as she darted along the path and into the trees. They had to follow single file as they wound their way deeper into the habitat. Soon though, they emerged in front of the shed where Sandy and Pella’s friends were being held. Mr. Vogelsinger motioned for the class to wait quietly at the edge of the trees.

He crept to the door and pushed it open. “All right, professor! What do you think you’re doing?”

The professor spun around, shocked and sputtering. “What? Oh! N-n-nothing! Look, your student broke in here and was up to no good!” he blustered, pointing at Sandy in the corner.

“It’s not true Mr. V!” she cried. “He’s the one that’s up to no good!”

Pella flew into the shed and hovered over her caged friends. The professor gaped at her. “There’s another one? Where did you come from?”

She ignored him and spoke to her friends. “You can stop flying now. The teacher is gong to help us!” And at her words, the exhausted fliers stopped their circular flight and dropped to the floor of the cage. Immediately, the ground beneath their feet began to rumble.

The professor cried, “NO!” and made a dive for the container holding the explosive device.

Mr. Vogelsinger stepped in front of him and blocked his way as the building began to shake. “Don’t even think about it!” he ordered.

The professor stopped in his tracks, but as the children waiting outside began to shout, he smiled wickedly. “Don’t you think you’d better go check on your class?”

Mr. Vogelsinger looked from the professor to the tiny imprisoned aliens in the cage. And he realized he had no option….

To be continued…

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Double Seduction (14)

Fictional Kevin and I have collaborated on Double Seduction: a novella of suspense. We both hope you have enjoyed this story.  Because this is the last chapter!  Find the previous chapters here.

Chapter 14 – The Solution

“The rope, Melody. Get it, now!” Anton commanded.

Mel, still in shock and reeling from what had just happened —from what she had done— shook herself into action. “The rope, the rope, the rope,” she repeated, willing herself to move. She stumbled toward the SUV while Anton lifted David from the ground and hoisted him over his shoulder.

Anton thanked the weather gods for the cold and drizzle that had kept the joggers and dog walkers at home. Hopefully the gods would continue to smile upon them today. The nearby woods, fifty feet away would provide ideal cover and a solution to the problem at hand. The problem. The solution. Anton was an expert at dealing with problems. It was what he did, it was who he was. This was just another mission for him, albeit with more personal consequences if he failed. He could not fail. Not for Melody. Not if he was to have her for his own.

A few dozen paces into the grove of dense trees, Anton found his solution— a stately old sycamore tree with a thick branch about twelve feet from the ground. Anton laid David’s limp form at the base of the tree and searched him. His cell phone was in the right rear pocket of his khakis. Anton swiped it open and scrolled through the few pathetic contacts David had stored, till he found one he could use. “Mom.”

He quickly scanned some their recent exchanges to assess the tone of David’s interactions with his mother. This had to be perfect or it would all fall to pieces. He typed, “Mom, I’m sorry. Life’s a bitch and then you die. I’m just speeding up the process.” Good. That had just the kind of snarky tone that David had used with his mother. Why would his last words be any different?

Anton wiped the phone clean with the hem of his t-shirt and placed the phone in David’s hand to get fresh prints on it before tucking it back in his rear pocket. Where the hell was Melody? Leaving David where he lay, Anton returned to the edge of the woods to watch for her.

Mel’s hand slipped on the wet door handle. She was shaking so hard, she could barely keep a grip on it. She squeezed her eyes shut, pressed a fist to her sternum and took deep calming breaths. Just like Anton had taught her. There. Better. Focus. Behind the driver’s seat on the floor was the coil of nylon rope. Mel grabbed it and ran back to the spot where she’d left Anton with David. Anton called to her from the woods. “Melody, this way.”

Following the sound of his voice, she found him several paces in, out of sight of the fountain and walking path. He took the rope and grabbed her hand, pulling her further into the woods.

“Anton, wait,” she gasped. “We can’t do this. We can’t.”

“Melody, trust me, this is the best way…” He spun her around to face him. “It is the only way,” he stated, gripping her arms. Giving her a little shake, he growled, “I will deal with this. You will remain calm. Just do as I say.”

He released her with a final shake that had her stumbling back and falling to the ground. Anton returned to his mission, dropping to his knees beside the still form of David. Uncoiling the rope, he continued, “Who do you think will have to answer for this, eh? Do you realize what could happen if you call the police? They will investigate. They will read everything that you have written to one another. They will conclude that it was a lover’s spat, Melody. They will think that you killed him in anger.”

“But… but… Anton, it was self defense,” she said, her voice shaking. “I didn’t mean to kill him. He… he was going to hit me. I… I just did what you trained me to do…”

“I know that. You know that. Will the police believe you?” He shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. You run the risk of arrest, possibly prison depending on what they conclude.”

“Anton, you saw the whole thing,” she added quickly. “You can tell them what happened. You saw him attack me.” Her voice rose in desperation. “You can tell them…”

Anton ignored her. No he would not ‘tell them.’ He hadn’t counted on such a perfect solution to this dilemma. But here it was. The rival eliminated, the white knight could come to her rescue. And Melody would be forever bound to him over their shared secret.

Concentrate on the mission, he thought. He tossed the rope over the tree limb and wound it around the trunk. He had hoped Melody would help. She was too rattled to be of any use. He would do it alone.

Anton had tied a slipknot in the rope. He looped the rope around David’s neck and lifted him up to a sitting position. David Twitchell’s eyes flickered and he took a ragged sucking breath.

“Oh my god, he’s alive!” Mel gasped. She covered her mouth, the taste of rising bile at the back of her throat.

Then she watched in horror as Anton hauled him up by the rope, cutting off the already badly restricted airway until David, clawing at the rope, his eyes bulging and wild, his face turning a ghastly shade of purple, finally breathed his last. He swung back and forth on the improvised gallows like the pendulum of a clock. Only it felt as time were standing still. Mel didn’t move. Couldn’t move. Anton glanced at her and said, “Wait here. There is one more thing I need.”

Moments later —it felt like hours— Anton returned with a thick tree stump and placed it near enough to the swinging body to make it appear like David had stood on it before kicking it out of the way. Anton stepped back for a moment, his eyes darting over the entire scene. Yes, he thought. It all fit. An obvious suicide. No need to look further.

“Come on Melody,” he said, reaching for her hand. “We will go back to my house. I will take care of you.”

Tears rolled down Mel’s cheeks. “You could’ve saved him. Why? Why, Anton? Why didn’t you save him?”

Anton pulled her to her feet, gathered her into his arms. “I saved you, Melody. I did all of it for you. And now you belong to me.”

Double Seduction (13)

Chapter 13 of Double Seduction: a novella of suspense written with Fictional Kevin. This chapter in the collaboration is Kevin’s.  The other chapters can be found here.  Comments are turned off so go visit him and give him some love!

Chapter 13 – Lucky

“OK, but I just wanted to say…” David began.

“Not on the phone, in person. Tomorrow, 10am, I’ll meet you at Shipley Park near the fountain.” Melody’s tone was angry and resolute.

“I’m just glad you’re still talking to me. I’m so sorry. Can you just hear what I need to tell you now?” David pleaded.

“No, I can’t talk to you right now. I need to think. Goodbye until tomorrow.” With that, Melody disconnected.

Continue reading on Kevin’s blog:  here