Home > Creative Writing Exercises, Social Networking, Writing > Three Words Musing 1: Bacon, Shortage, Blockade – Part VI

Three Words Musing 1: Bacon, Shortage, Blockade – Part VI

This is the sixth installment of a work in progress inspired by suggestions on Twitter. All rights reserved!

June 2012

Amy Dennison turned her pale blue PT Cruiser onto the rough limestone road under an azure late spring sky streaked with faint high-altitude clouds. Just after lunchtime, but she took hers on the road today. She slurped the last of the Coke from the styrofoam fast food cup and belched in time to the chorus of “Sweet Home Alabama” as it played on her car’s MP3 player.

It wasn’t ladylike, no. But, then, she wasn’t feeling particularly ladylike today. She had known Lloyd Porter for about two years. He’d been a mentor to her when she joined the bureau as a general assignment reporter, fresh off an internship at the Raleigh News and Observer. The man had a wife and two kids to support. If times were so bad that the Orlando Press would toss him to the wolves, then what hope did a single girl have of surviving cutbacks? Oh, sure, she might last longer than some of the other senior reporters, people who sucked away bigger chunks of payroll. But she had no doubt: Eventually, her number would come up.

Amy didn’t believe much in God, but she put a lot of faith in karma. Do good, she reasoned, and good comes back to you. So, she’d happily recommended Lloyd to her old college roommate. She didn’t think Lloyd’s first choice would ever be a new career as a marketing hack, but she knew he was realistic enough to accept that print newspapers were an endangered species. Besides, marketing would pay so much better than he could ever hope to make crusading for the dwindling readership.

The PT Cruiser rumbled past an orange-trimmed blue sign that read: UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA VETERINARY PATHOLOGY ANNEX. The sign perched at a slight angle on the grassy shoulder of the road, under a moss-draped oak branch.

Moments later, she parked in a gravel lot outside an oversized blue aluminum shed with a sloping roof next to a Ford truck that belonged to the university. She plucked her spiral-topped reporter’s notebook and pen from the passenger seat, then got out of the car and started walking through the sun-dappled shade.

Her cellphone, nestled in the door compartment on the driver’s side of her car, buzzed in silent mode. Had she known to look, she might have seen PATRICK BETTS calling. She might have answered. And she might have lived, at least a little longer.

***

His nice shirt splattered with crimson, Lloyd Porter slammed his green Prius into reverse and tried to put the freakish chaos of Clement Marketing as far back in his rearview as possible.

Not very charitable of him, he knew, but someone else was handling the 911 call.

Another office worker, very apologetic, had said they’d be happy to reschedule an interview.

But that was right before a beefy security thug swung a black baton upside Diana Petrofsky’s head. He had tried wrestling her off Leopold’s mangled arm, but had discovered it was about as difficult as pulling pork from congressional legislation. The first swing connected but failed to jar her loose. In fact, she growled and dug in deeper. The second thwack got her attention, though. She let go of Leopold, who clutched his arm in close and allowed another co-worker to drag him away, and then she roared at the security man. Gooey strings of blood and flesh stretched between her teeth. She lunged for him. He swung a third time. That turned out the lights for her, ending the savagery in a crunch of bone and a splurt of blood and gray matter before she toppled lifeless onto the mauve carpet.

No, Lloyd appreciated the offer, but no. He didn’t know what was happening in Clement Marketing, but he knew it wasn’t normal, it wasn’t good, and it might be catching.

Go home, he thought. See to the family.

***

Angeline found Evan in the back yard, rocking slowly back and forth as he sat on the edge of the sandbox. She carried the Robo toy in her right hand. The left pressed against her chest, which had tightened with fear upon finding the empty minivan.

“Evan,” she said, kneeling beside him and offering the toy. “I found your Robo. Now where’s your brother? And why did you leave the car? You scared Mommy!”

A small hand clutched her left shoulder. Angeline turned to see Lloyd Jr. gazing at her with sulfurous yellow-green eyes.

“Play time, Evan,” he said.

She didn’t understand. It didn’t make sense. She looked back toward Evan, who was on his feet now, regarding his mother with his own glowing eyes. “Play time,” the little boy rasped in agreement.

She dropped the toy, releasing a horrified yelp, and tried to run.

Angeline Porter made it about three steps before her oldest latched a hand on her right ankle, bringing her down. Then the youngest sank his teeth into her leg.

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