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Thursday, May 13, 2010

And Then What?

… Claire parked at the back of the bakery a little after 8:00 on a moonless September night and realized that the pot-holed parking area was darker then normal. The yellow light over the door that usually illuminated the littered space around it was out. Yanking her glove compartment open, she reached for the silver flashlight stored there, flicked the switch, then slapped it against her palm when nothing happened.

"Terrific,” she sighed. “Now what?” She toyed with the idea of leaving her headlights on while entering the building, but discarded it. The bakery door was on a spring and closed automatically. She would have to return in the dark to turn the car lights off.

Shutting off the engine, she grabbed the keys and slid from the car, closing the door and blinking in the resulting blackness, then turning in the direction of the building she could no longer see. With her hands out in front Claire inched forward, waiting for her eyes to acclimate the dark. How far was it to the door anyway? Thirteen steps? Twenty? Twenty-five? Before long, the car behind her was swallowed by night.

Shuffling her feet, she cursed herself for not driving around the building and entering by the front door. Her foot struck something with a loud clank, and her heart began to pound. “Stop it, Claire” she muttered. “It’s a can. You must be close to the building now.”

Almost immediately, her outstretched fingers scraped rough brick. “There. Now all I have to do is find the door.” Sliding her hands to the left in the direction she thought the door should be, she heard a scraping sound in the rutted lot behind her and froze. What was that? Claire paused, swallowed hard, then shook herself and groped for the metal door once again. “Oh God, where is it?” She whispered to herself. She'd heard that raccoons, stray cats and even rats made their way from the empty field behind the parking lot to help themselves to the pickings from the bakery dumpster. She had no interest in encountering any of them first-hand.

Feeling along the wall, she continued edging to the left as she sought the entrance to the shop. A blade of panic stabbed as she heard more shuffling sounds behind her. Where was the door? Had she over-shot it? Was it on her right after all? Should she change directions?

As the rustling grew closer, Claire began making sweeping motions with her hands, panting “Come on. Come on.” Just as she thought she might have to gather herself and run out of the alley, her hands encountered the handle of the industrial door. Grabbing it, she held on with her left, using it as a target so she could guide the key in her right hand toward the lock.

Heaving the heavy door open, she switched on the inside light and turned to look over her shoulder before slamming the door shut on what she expected to be the green eyes of a fat racoon reflecting up at her. The glow from the kitchen spilled out to the parking lot and as the door swung closed, she gasped as the flickering shadow of a tall figure disappearing around the corner of the bakery.

Any and all contructive criticism will be appreciated.


Andria said...

I love the tension that builds from the beginning of this passage to the end. Who was the tall figure?!

One thing that I wondered about was why she was panicking about a possible stray cat, racoon, or rat. If it were me, I wouldn't be as scared as she seemed to be about the thought of a stray cat or a rodent. Maybe there's a reason she's afraid of these creatures?

I LOVE that you're brave and you put your writing out there for others to read and make comments on. Brava!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Spooky! I was holding my breath, really. You did an excellent job of drawing out the tension, although I agree that cats wouldn't cause that kind of fear, but most of us would worry about unsavory people in a lonely, dark parking lot.

Tabitha Bird said...

Oh gosh. I wanted to yell at her to go back to the car! She is one brave gal! :) Loved it Liza:)

Helen Ginger said...

I did feel the tension and kept waiting for something to grab her. I think I might suggest a bit more at the end so it's not just a shadowy figure disappearing around the corner. Choose one thing that would make the figure more scary or menacing. Maybe it stands still as if watching her before turning to leave. Maybe it's not at the corner, but closer. Maybe...

Straight From Hel

glnroz said...

ok,,, you got me,, that worked ,well,, now,, you got to find out what/who that was,, hummm? :)

Elana Johnson said...

I would've totally left my lights on. Probably with the car running too. She's much braver than me!

Tahereh said...

wow! i was hooked!

great job!!

best of luck with all you do :D

prashant said...

you got to find out
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