Sunday, April 16, 2006

Here we go!

This isn't hilarious; my apologies. But I assure you this story is going to be quite funny at points, hopefully even in general, because I just can't help myself.

I've got the plot. I think it will do. I hope you like it, and that I can be consistent by posting every Sunday. (Knock on wood.)

Remember, this is a rough draft. I wrote this... um... ten minutes ago.

Click on "Read More, Maybe" to see it. Enjoy!

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was not feeling like a winner. Winners were jubilant, with light hearts and a jig in their step; they did not worry about how they would survive the night, cold, wet toes or how cumbersome a large bag of yarn and knitting doodads can be when you’re trudging home through eighteen inches of new snow during a blackout. Winners believed Lady Luck was on their side and, having made her acquaintance, they didn’t doubt that they would be the ones to take her home, if not for good, then at least for the night. After all, she had favored them; never mind her notoriously fickle nature.

Kathy-or-maybe–Karen had no such belief. While she had been using more than her fair share of luck the past few weeks, she was not na├»ve enough – or tipsy enough – to think that it could hold out. Something other than luck had been on her side tonight. She felt a slight twang of guilt at leaving the women from the knitting circle with so little to show for their evening, but she had agreed to give them a chance to win it back. Besides, it wasn’t as if she enjoyed practically stealing their yarn out from under them: the bag was heavy.

Earlier in the evening, snowplows had cleared the streets, creating a hedge of snow that ran along the sides of the parked cars and formed large mounds at every intersection, effectively blocking any but the most adventurous pedestrian from crossing the streets in the usual manner. The blackout had quite literally driven people into the streets, and like them, Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was walking down them, another shadowy explorer with uncertain footing. Kathy-or-maybe–Karen was uncertain about how she felt about her company. It was weeks until the full moon, and the lights from the areas of the city that had power were only sufficient to cast the sky in a dim, sulfurous glow. She felt like she was walking down a deep, black walled chasm, lined with a faintly glowing floor. Dark forms moved toward her, their shape and meaning indistinct until they were nearly upon her - faceless, shuffling apparitions. Mostly, they either did not see her or ignored her altogether, their minds focused solely on their destination.

A block from her apartment she was crossing the intersection at a diagonal when she noticed something coming down the street on her right. Unless it changed course it would cross very close by her just before the corner. Tightening her grip on the snow-slick bag, Kathy-or-maybe-Karen quickened her pace. She made it a couple steps before she lost her footing, her legs slipping out from under her, landing her heavily atop the booty bag. The shadowy form was rapidly approaching.

“Are you alright?” it asked.

“Fine, fine!” Kathy-or-maybe–Karen exclaimed, struggling to right herself. She had to get to her feet before it reached her, had to get away.

“Are you sure?” it said, and she felt something grab her arm, pulling her to her feet. It was a man.

“I’m okay,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen insisted, straightening her hat. Snow had gotten down her collar, up her sleeves. She glanced down the streets, but there was no one that she could see. They were alone.

The man was staring at something just above Kathy-or-maybe-Karen’s head. Alarmed, she looked up, but the man merely said, “I hope you didn’t break anything.”

It took her a moment to realize he was speaking about the bag.

“Uh, no. No, that’s just yarn.” Crap, she thought. Why did I just tell him that?

“Ah. A buffer,” the man said, and before Kathy-or-maybe-Karen could say anything he picked up the bag. “They say there’s going to be three more weeks of winter. At least, that’s what they say the groundhog said. Me, I say May.”

“Uh…” It was dangerous standing out in the open like this. She had to get rid of him. Quickly.

“Are you going far?”

He wanted to walk her home. What was the yarn worth, anyway? “I have to go!” she announced suddenly, turning on her heel.

“Hey! Your bag!”

But Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was already halfway down the street. She didn’t look back. For once she felt fortunate that the city was not based on a grid. It was easy to be misled in the narrow, winding streets, but it was just as easy to mislead. Kathy-or-maybe-Karen cut down a street that led away from her apartment and followed it for a couple blocks until she was able to turn back and, through a network of crooked, abbreviated mews and alleys, reach the threshold of her apartment. She let herself in with numb, shaking fingers and closed the door carefully behind her. Her apartment building lay within the domain of the power outage, the winding Victorian stairs eerily red-lit from the emergency lights that stood high up on the wall above each tiny landing. She hurried up the stairs, unlocked her door, latching and bolting it firmly behind her. She leaned against it, panting, and stared into the perfect blackness of her apartment.

Not for the first time it occurred to Kathy-or-maybe-Karen that she in was in way over her head. It was only a matter of time before she was found. She was not good at subterfuge. To some, it was an art; a practiced skill that would deliver, like magic, the heart’s desire, whether it be love or riches. Gavin had been very skilled at it; he pulled a shroud of glamour over everything he did, transforming everything he did into something special, something wondrous. She had been astonished that he had wanted her. But then, if Gavin were all he pretended to be, he would be here right now.

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen stepped cautiously into the room. Her foot struck something on the floor that tumbled and rolled away. Crouching, she felt for it in the darkness, then set it upright on the gently sloping floor and lit it with a cheap lighter she kept in her pocket. A halo of light sprung up around the candle, illuminating Kathy-or-maybe-Karen’s pale face. She rose and moved around the room, lighting candles until a circle appeared on the faux-wood linoleum. Vague symbols in pink and blue chalk were crudely scrawled between the candles, forming a kind of mandalla. There was no furniture visible in the room, only two suitcases in the corner opposite a sink and compact stove set into a niche in one wall. Hanging over the two small windows were braids of garlic.

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen had lost the bag of yarn, but she still had her stash. She hoped it would be sufficient to garner the knitting circle’s interest. She took off her jacket and set to carefully retracing the chalk lines inadvertently smudged by her shoe. Come dawn, she would sleep.

In the shadows where the wall met the ceiling, a pair of eyes glinted brightly in the candlelight, watching her movements with interest.

For the next part, click here.

To return to the Index, click here.
For the first part, click here.


Jeanette said...

Hmm, I am intrigued, who is Gavin? what has he taught Kathy, or maybe it's Karen? Is it Kathy or Karen? Most important of all, will she be able to recover the lost yarn after she has slept? ;-) Good job, can't wait to read more!

wenders said...

I agree. I primarily concerned about the yarn. :)

bitterknitter said...

It's great, I can't wait to read the next part!

Lissy said...

Dammit, you CAN'T make her lose her yarn! I'm verklempt. And I have to wait days to find out if she gets it back? Grrrrr. I guess that's the way to keep us coming back.