Chapter 1: Chapter 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Published Writer Network

Reads: 354
Comments: 1

The Call started as it always did, burning inside my stomach like radioactive magnets. Tugging, nagging, beckoning until my whole body buzzed with it. It hurt as a child, but now it was a welcome pain, a thrill even. I threw my curls into a messy bun, pulled on my jacket, and grabbed the essentials: my Glock 42, pocket knife, keys. By the time I started up my faded Honda, I could feel a taut, invisible line connecting me with my target.

I headed east out of the city, my inner GPS guiding my choice of highways. Suburbs replaced the skyscrapers, and then came intermittent slashes of farmland and woods. Time elapsed, too slow, as I tried not to white-knuckle the steering wheel. The bobble-head Yoda on my dashboard mocked me. I drummed the fingers of one hand on my thigh. My nails were already chewed down, the gunmetal paint chipped. Once…once I hadn’t made it in time. And that one time, of the dozens upon dozens, was the one that plagued my dreams.

Midafternoon slid away and the sky began a sluggish burn to night. The land became desolate, hilly, shadowed with thick forest. When I finally found the source of the Call, I passed it and circled up and down a few gravel roads before I spotted a good place to hide my car. My breath puffed miniature clouds into the cold air as I trekked back to the house. More of a cabin, really. Yellow shutters stood out against the wooden planks and plaid curtains hung in the windows. Smoke twisted lazily out of the chimney. Innocent and welcoming, like something right out of a creepy fairytale. And the Call definitely emanated from inside. That’s where I’d find the missing seven-year-old girl.

Crouched between a rusty water pump and an abandoned Volvo, I took out my phone to call the cops. I had to stay anonymous of course—it might make the police uncomfortable if they learned about the five-foot-four vigilante with mad skills at playing hide-and-seek. Too many questions, followed by answers they wouldn’t believe. I’d learned that the hard way a long time ago. My fingers tingling with unspent adrenaline, I dialed 9-1-

A blue and white patrol car rolled down the driveway towards me, before I could hit the last digit. Someone must have already tipped off the cops. I slipped the phone into my back pocket and became still. A few years after I’d learned I could find things, I’d learned I could also hide things rather well. Including myself. So now I shrouded myself in shadows, blending into the trees behind me, and waited. I always watched to make sure the kids were rescued and the perverts who kidnapped them got their asses hauled off to jail. The car pulled up right in front of the house and stopped. A squeak and a slam as the door opened and closed. The officer approached the house.

He was tall and slim, almost skeletal, but had the look of somebody you wouldn’t want to tangle with. I waited for another cop to get out of the car, but no one did. No backup? That seemed odd. He walked languidly up to the front door, hands hanging free, away from his weapons. Keys jangled. He unlocked the front door and went inside.

My blood slowed in my veins, and an icy wind ghosted through the trees. The kidnapper was a police officer.

Shit, shit, shit. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I mean, of course cops weren’t supposed to be demented criminals. But beyond that, I simply hadn’t planned for this. In all my years finding kids, this had never happened. The potential of it happening had never even entered my head. I’d been in some tough spots, but this one took the cake.

One minute crawled by, then two, as I ran through possibilities, all of which sucked. Plum shades of twilight seeped up around the edges of the horizon and I could taste imminent snow on my tongue, sad and solemn. It would be dark soon. I had to decide now.

The door of the cabin swung open, startling me. Officer Asshole went to his car. He opened the trunk and pulled out a large metal barrel, a saw, and a can of gasoline. He stuck the saw and the gas inside the barrel and walked back into the house.

The Glock was in my hand with no conscious thought. I jogged forward, keeping it at my hip.

He’d left the door unlocked. Guess he’d had his hands full carrying the barrel, but he’d be back soon. After a quick glance through the window, I opened the door and slipped in. Without lights on, shadows dominated the room. I surveyed the layout. Kitchen to the right. Bedrooms on the left. Hallway leading to the back porch straight ahead. And at the back of the room, a worn wooden door. I could feel the tug of the Call. The man and the girl were behind the door, but below floor level. A cellar maybe, or a bomb shelter.

The cop drug the barrel down the stairs. Thud. Thud. Thud. Like a sluggish heartbeat.

Outside, the wind worried along the eaves and across the opening of the chimney. Taking a deep breath, I strode forward and kicked open the door.

The kidnapper stood at the bottom of the stairs, just to the right. In the corner of the room sat the girl, all blonde curls and a dirty face, tied to a chair. His eyes widened at the same moment hers did, and his hand went to his gun in a millisecond.

Two flashes. My first bullet hit his shoulder. My second his left kneecap.

He fell to the ground with an anguished moan, his gun dropping to the floor and sliding under a shelf. I ran down the steps. I’d kill the cop—he deserved no less—but not unless I had to. That was one dance with death I’d rather avoid. He didn’t seem to be going anywhere. I retrieved his gun from under the shelf, emptied it of bullets and stuck it in the waistband of my pants. The girl whimpered. I pulled out my pocket knife, set my gun at my feet, eyes on the cop, and slashed through her ropes.

“Can you walk?”

She nodded, tears cutting through the dirt on her cheeks.

“Up the stairs. I’m right behind you.”

I picked up my gun and kept it trained on the pervert, walking in the girl’s shadow as she crossed the room. She paused, trembling, when she got to the base of the stairs. I nudged her gently and once she started up, I backed up the stairs, my gun trained on his forehead.

He simmered in rage, colder than the Illinois winter pressing in from outside.

At the top of the stairs I spun and grabbed the girl’s hand. “Come on!”

We raced across the living room and out the front door. Only the slightest shimmer of light remained on the horizon. The snow had finally begun to fall, and a couple flakes drifted into my eyes.

I guess that’s why I didn’t see the woman until her fist collided with my face.

Submitted: May 14, 2020

© Copyright 2021 A.A. Chamberlynn. All rights reserved.


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A well written fantasy novel.
The first chapter is dramatic.

Mon, June 8th, 2020 11:01pm

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