Posts Tagged ‘shortstories’

June Bugs (7)

[Read installment 1]
[Read installment 2]
[Read installment 3]
[Read installment 4]
[Read installment 5]
[Read installment 6]

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Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

“Put on the damned belt,” Abbey screamed up the ladder towards the bucket, her hands swiftly moving over the controls at the base of the apparatus.

Much to her disbelief, Jake did put on the belt and grabbed ahold of the railing. Without a moment to lose, Abbey raised the ladder and bucket up high enough to clear the top of the engine and then pivoted the entire contraption towards the right in the direction of the sputtering helicopter.

“Back it off!” Jake screamed. She didn’t hesitate. She lowered the boom and reversed the direction while her brain questioned why. In a beat, she understood. Chuck had jumped.

He had a pack secured to his back. Presumably a parachute. The only trouble with that: he didn’t have the height or the wind speed to make his landing. She bit hard into her lower lip and swung the bucket back, jostling Jake like a Szechuan stir fry. Lucky for him he hadn’t just gone through the motions of securing himself. The belt kept him in place and earned him a few points in his favor.

One of the chiefs headed her way while shouting something unintelligible. Probably telling her to stand down and that as soon as this was over, she could head straight to the unemployment line. But Chuck wasn’t going to die. Not on her watch. So she ignored the chief and kept her focus on navigating the bucket to where she hoped Chuck would land.

Nothing prepared any of them for what would happen next. The thunderous clap shook the earth below them, sending out a strong fiery gust of wind that blew Chuck off course as a cannonball of fire chased after him. Her reaction was perfectly in sync. The bucket followed the redirection as smooth as she could ask of it. Once again, Jake wobbled but remained in place, his arms outstretched and ready to catch Chuck. Except the odds were his arms would be broken if not sheered off completely. Chuck’s weight combined with the natural pull of gravity coupled with the force of the explosion meant the chuck wagon barbecue would now become a shish-ka-bob, the two men skewered by limbs and apparatus.

“Back it off!” The chief screamed while motioning towards the firefighters who followed. “Get out the boat,” he commanded.

Boat? And then it clicked.

At the start of their tour, Price–the head of the swift water rescue team–had shoved an enormous box onto the back of the rig in preparation for an upcoming drill. The team’s newest addition. An instant blow-up “boat”. She’d seen the prototype in action. All of them had. Sadly the sales rep, his second day on the job, had failed to put on his show in a space large enough. He proudly pulled the boat out of the box and then pulled the rip cord. Bah-bam! Every last inch of the bay was nothing but boat. The force, so strong, it broke Jerry’s leg as if it were a dried up twig. The city retired him out a week after the doctors determined he wasn’t fit for duty.

The engine’s motor groaned in protest along with Jake as she re-centered the bucket over the roof of the apparatus. Meanwhile, Chuck was blowing past at the speed of a comet.

What felt like minutes yet was mere seconds finally came to an end. Two sounds ripped through the night. First the whapabam and then the thud.

“Chuck!” Jake screamed from halfway down the ladder while continuing to race towards the bottom. “Chuck, man, talk to me! Are you okay? Are you alive?”

Abbey stepped back away from the engine to get a better look. Her heart shot down into the earth through her boots. Somewhere behind her she heard the wails of Bridget.


The Adventures of Jake & Chuck is a weekly installment of an interactive (you, the reader, get to participate by adding your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below) never-ending story. Be sure to sign up and receive notifications of the newest release or follow Kathie on Twitter (@kathieblog) where announcements are also published.

Ratings/likes and comments are always appreciated and fuel the muse.

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June Bugs (Part 6)

[Read first installment here]
[Read second installment here]
[Read third installment here]
[Read fourth installment here]
[Read fifth installment here]

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Chuck was going to die. There wasn’t another way around this. The engine had sputtered. An array of lights flickered across the control panel. An alarm rang. This was it. The only thing left for him to do–other than be graceful in his death–was to steer clear of the commotion below and preserve the lives of the valiant men and women.

“God save the queen!” he declared. Which, to anyone in the know, meant Bridget, his queen. His bride. His life.

He threw his weight to the left and sent the Mosquito Lite into a tailspin. Instinctively he maneuvered the controls down which meant that the machine itself was supposed to go up. Only it didn’t. Chuck was going to be sick. Could feel the acidic burn roaring up his windpipe. Clenching his teeth, his lips, he blew air out his nose. The burn seared his nose hairs. Caused his eyes to tear.

June of 2000. Three months after he married Bridget. Two years before they bought this estate. The couple lived in a single bedroom apartment in Red Bluff. He worked as a deputy. Bridget, at the time, worked as a sketch artist for the justice system, traveling up and down I-5 as needed. She worked a big case out of Lodi. He had doubles for the next two days. If it weren’t for the work, he’d have gone mad being away from his true love for so long.

The day before she returned, his only day off for the next five, he spent it preparing something special. Something exquisite. Something to herald his wife’s return. Make it that much more special. Show her how much he missed her. How much he appreciated her. How much he loved her. Money was no object. But then again, it was.

He stopped by to visit his pal, Oscar, who at the time owned his own shop. There, Oscar customized vehicles. His specialty, the hot dog mobile as he called them. The shop, therefore, was appropriately known as Oscar’s Wieners. Oscar was all ears when Chuck told his woebegone story. As he lamented, Oscar came up with an idea.
For the next eight hours the two worked arduously. And while Bridget started her trek home, they took their creation over to the apartment complex and hoisted it up on the rooftop of the four-story building. They didn’t have time for a test run. On Oscar’s way out he slapped Chuck on the back and said, “Well it’s do or die, buddy. Good luck.”

Chuck sat inside the thing for over an hour, his field glasses trained on the main road. When he saw Bridget’s dark blue Taurus rumbling his way, he readied himself. Threw his entire weight into pushing the wiener glider off the ledge. It swooped and soared. Caught the wind as it should. Pulls to the levers allowed him to guide it down over the roadway as the banner unfurled in his wake.

Except he got giddy. He’d seen Bridget look up. Saw the recognition on her face. Saw her beam. It’s what he didn’t see that got him into trouble.

He managed to avert the glider before crashing into the flagpole. However, the directional change he created in the wind current sent the banner whipping towards the pole. The eddies churned and once the banner’s tail slipped around the pole, it began winding itself. The glider yanked back against the pull of the banner.
Without an engine, his simplistic controls were worthless. The glider lost its momentum and began plummeting to earth. He may have screamed while he tried to push-off the bubble cover–which didn’t budge. He definitely screamed when he used his fist to hammer at the plexiglass–which didn’t budge.

That stupid joke about the last thing that goes through a bugs head popped into his own head. The punchline: his ass. Chuck thought for certain that he’d know first hand how that bug felt. And just when the earth came into view by a¬†microcosm instead of generalized shapes, the wiener glider yanked back. It was like a giant hand came down and plucked him out of the air. The glider shot back up.

Dear lord, he might have said out loud. He knew what would come next. As soon as the glider lost momentum, it would shoot straight back down. Any chance of Bridget recovering his body was lost. He hoped she had a big enough soup tureen.

An ear popping whistle accompanied the return descent. When retelling the story, he would leave out the part about him sobbing as he slammed his eyes shut. Usually he said he faced death like a real Jedi. Eyes wide open. Beating his chest. Come at me bro! being his war cry.

The silence and stillness begged of him to open his eyes. When he did, he found himself staring at Bridget’s face. She had tears running down it, her mascara like deadly rivers trailing down her cheeks. With her, a crowbar. She wedged it in and pried off the bubble of plexiglass. Two seconds later both heard a horrific tearing noise. The banner had given out. The same banner that now hangs in their living room. The one with the heart ripped in half. “No, we never split up,” Bridget would explain when guests asked. “But in the seconds before that happened, I thought for sure my heart was going to break into a thousand little pieces.”

He couldn’t do that again to Bridget. He couldn’t break her heart again like before. And he wouldn’t. Because this time he had a back-up plan.

_________________________

Jake & Chuck’s Adventures is a weekly interactive never-ending story. You, the reader, can chime in at any time and leave ideas on where you want to see the story headed in the next issue. Make sure you sign up to be notified of when the next installment comes.

As always, votes and likes are appreciated!

June Bugs (Part 5)

[Read first installment here]
[Read second installment here]
[Read third installment here]
[Read fourth installment here]

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Abbey scouted the sky for the helicopter as she climbed up on the back of the rig. The engine idled under her feet, vibrating up through her boots into her spine. Hand on the railing, she moved up towards the bucket, eyes still on the sky. She’d located the whirlybird and wasn’t about to let it out of her sight a second time if it could be helped.

“Do you think he’ll be able to see us?” Jake screamed at her over the commotion below. She gritted her teeth and plunged forward. It was an idiotic idea. Why she ever agreed to do this was beyond her. She should have walked away. Should have gone straight to the chief. But no. There she was, moving towards the bucket and closer to the end of her career. If this worked, she might be promoted. If it didn’t, she’d be collecting unemployment by the day’s end.

Did she do it because she still felt something for Jake? No. Hell no. What he did to her was reprehensible. He could be the last man on earth, she could be the last woman on earth, and that wouldn’t matter. She’d rather let mankind die out than ever let him touch her again.

Not that he was bad as a lover. Far from it. Even now under the weight of her turnouts, the oxygen tank, the memory of his hands on her body threatened to undermine her resolve. Dear Lord. Why hadn’t anyone warned her about him? But she couldn’t put that on her brethren. She had to take the fall on her own for not paying attention to the signs, to the flags that he flew. Who were they to say, “you know he’s a player, right?”. How were they to know she was in it for the end game?

She’d arrived at the bucket. Wrapped the straps into place and hooked them properly. All the while, she kept her eye on the whirlybird. What the hell was he doing up there?

“Belts on,” she ordered Jake once he arrived in the bucket. She’d moved into place at the control panel.

“I’m good,” he said a moment later.

She risked it by glancing over at him. He stared back at her with a challenge in his eyes. He hadn’t secured himself.

“We’re not going up until you’re secured.”

“I’ve got perfect balance. I’ll be fine. Abbey, we don’t have time for this, just get us up in the air.”

She said nothing. Just stared at him. Screw the copter. Screw Jake. Screw this whole fiasco.

“Abbey, come on!”

She grabbed up the belts and thrust them at him. He didn’t take them. Abbey dropped them back into place. Unhooked her own from the railing. Pushed past him. Kept on going back towards the rear of the apparatus.

Yes, it was a good plan. Yes, it might have worked. Yes, they might be saving lives by doing this. But this was one too many risks.

She was fully determined to leave and head right straight over to the chief, but then the helicopter swooped low. The engine sputtered. The machine hovered as if frozen in place. And then it lifted straight up and kept climbing higher and higher. In that brief moment, she caught sight of Chuck’s face from inside the helicopter. A look that was more horrifying than anything else happening at that moment. If someone didn’t do something, that poor man was going to die.

——

Jake and Chuck’s Adventures is an interactive never-ending story. Chime in and take their capers to a whole new level with your own bizarre twist! Leave the idea in the comments below and then check back later to see where the adventure heads (note that these posts are written weeks ahead in advance, so it might take a while before your ideas are incorporated).

 

 

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