You can read the first two chapters here and here. Kim will be writing from Blade’s perspective and I’ll be Viola. We have no idea where the other is going to take it. So, we just have to go with it. Collaborative web series. Fun!
When the school’s dismissal bell rang, I didn’t bother even checking for Blade. I took a deep breath and, despite the herd of classmates flying out the front door, I carefully made my way back down those fateful stairs. Success, I didn’t fall. Letting out the breath I hadn’t realized was being held, I gave myself a mental high-five as I headed toward the back of the lot where my rust colored Fiat waited.
As I drove the short distance toward ‘downtown’ Tranquility, I considered my first day. All in all, aside from the stairs incident, it was fairly uneventful. I hadn’t made any friends but I hadn’t made any enemies, either. Not yet. I’m sure that was coming, it always did. Every time we moved, I left no one behind. In my almost 18 years, I had absolutely no friends. Considering how often my parents moved us, it was probably for the best. But, I always left behind classmates that, for whatever reason, had decided I was the one to hate on. To say I had my share of bullying happen was an understatement. Inevitably, I grew some seriously thick skin.
Pulling into the public parking lot, I found a spot. It wasn’t as if it was a bustling city, there were plenty of parking spaces since most people preferred feet and bikes to cars. Downtown was made up of two blocks of old buildings housing business and retail spaces. There was a dollar store and a law office directly off the parking lot. There were boutiques, chain stores and real estate offices mingling with Irish pubs and Pottery Barn. The mix, along with the architecture, screamed eclectic. And whether anyone in Tranquility wanted to admit it, it also stunk of ‘same ole’. All quaint old towns looked exactly the same, just some were in better condition than others.
I tucked my hands in my hoodie pocket and walked the block toward Main Street; because it seems that all small towns are required to have one of those. An overwhelming sense of suffocation hit me and caused a small panic attack. I felt as though I was being watched yet the only things above were the gargoyles positioned on the corners of most of the buildings. It was the only thing each building had in common. Funky gargoyles on every single corner, watching the town like they were preparing to swoop in and scoop people up with their sharp, alabaster talons.
Shrugging, I laughed at my ridiculousness and stopped in front of Lost in Time. The bright orange letters declaring “help wanted” caused me to raise a brow. I was in need of a job so this meeting with Blade seemed serendipitous. I didn’t really need, need a job. More like…I wanted a job so that I didn’t have to sit at home, under the watchful eye of my artist mother. She was overbearingly overprotective. At almost 18, I needed to start the process of cutting the cord.
Swinging the door open, the reindeer bells announced my arrival to whomever was manning the shop. Aside from an over-abundance of musty knick-knacks and moth-eaten furniture, the shop seemed to be completely devoid of human life. The space was weird, creepy and familiar, all rolled into one.
“Hello?” My voice sounded quieter than I had anticipated, “Anyone here?”
There was no response so I moved further back into the shop. It was much larger than it appeared to be from the outside. Almost cavernous. “Hello?” I called again, dragging my fingers along the dusty top of an antique dresser.
I stopped in front of a marble bust depicting a Greek or Roman god, I still didn’t always know the difference. Weren’t they basically the same, anyway? Chills crept along my spine as I stared into the empty eye sockets. Athena, maybe? Whichever god it was, she was beginning to freak me out.
The reindeer bells jingled, breaking my one-sided staring contest. Assuming it was Blade, I turned back toward the front of the building, still sort of wondering if we should be worried about where the shop owner was. I felt as though I were trespassing. And, I wasn’t one to break rules. Not intentionally, anyway.
Sure enough, the newcomer was Blade. He was holding a very ancient and equally as sharp looking weapon. I watched his eyes travel the length of the blade before I cleared my throat to let him know I was there. I didn’t want to startle him, he was holding one dangerous looking sword.
Glancing over at me, he smiled and carefully placed the sword back into the display unit, “Hey Vi!”
He made me feel like giggling, “You know, I don’t think anyone has ever called me Vi. Mostly Viola. Or Ms. Weaver. Depending on where I was or who I was with.”
Blade tilted his head to the side and I was so tempted to push the stray piece of hair away from his eyes, “You don’t let yourself get too close to people, do you?”
I shrugged, “No reason to. I don’t stay anywhere long enough to make a lasting connection anyway.”
Reaching out, Blade ran his hand along my arm, “Well Vi, I hope you don’t mind but I’m just going to keep on calling you that. And, consider yourself warned, you and I will be connecting.”
Stupid heat crept up my neck and firmly planted itself onto my cheeks. I stuttered, “W-W-We’ll see.”
The thought of getting close to anyone, including Blade, made me a nervous wreck. I didn’t need or want to let anyone get to know me. Because then, inevitably, they’d find out what it is I’d been hiding. The reason my parents kept us moving so often. And, I just couldn’t afford that.
Blade must have sensed that I was ready to bolt so he grabbed my arm and led me deeper into the back of Lost in Time. We passed by Athena. Or Venus. Or whomever the bust was representing. He stopped and turned toward me, “Listen Vi, I’m not going to hurt you. I promise you, I’m going to protect you. Tranquility is a dangerous place for people like you and me.”
I couldn’t help but stare at his lips as he spoke, the way they moved to form words was mesmerizing and quite sexy, “What? What do you mean, people like us?”
“I sensed something from you. A power of some sort. I can’t put my finger on it and I’m not sure you can either. But, it’s there and it’s about to bust out of you.” He tilted my chin to look up directly into his eyes, “I want you to remember something. If you are ever in any trouble and I’m not there to help you, you come here. Lost in Time is the only place in this entire city where you’ll be safe.”
The intensity in his voice and the burning look in his eyes left me with no choice but to nod in agreement, “Okay. Yeah. Yes. I promise.” But, I wasn’t sure if I trusted him yet. What did he sense about me? And what was it I was sensing about him?
We were interrupted by the shuffling of feet which belonged to an old man. While he was slightly bent and aging, like the goods surrounding us, he emanated power and strength. His wizened blue eyes looked back and forth from me to Blade, “Ah good. Blade. Viola. I’ve been waiting for you. You’ve both got the job. You start tomorrow after school.” And he shuffled back from the dark corner which he materialized from.
Blade didn’t seem as stunned as I was. I broke the silence, “How?”
Blade looked toward the back of the shop and then at me, “It’s a long story. But, I was right about you. Let’s go grab something to eat and I’ll tell you more.”
Side by side and making small talk, we walked toward the quaint little diner. The Sweet Taste made the best comfort food of any town I’d ever lived in. I knew this for a fact because on our first night in town, my parents took me here for dinner. Based on my day, I could use some comfort food about now. The day went from completely normal to utterly insane at back breaking speed. So lost in thought, I didn’t even notice that Blade was staring at me and that my chicken pot pie was steaming in front of me.
I shook my head, trying to clear the racing thoughts, “I’m sorry, were you saying something?” I grabbed my fork and began poking holes in the pastry top of the pot pie to release the hot air.
He shook his head, “Nope, I was just waiting for you to come back to earth. Didn’t want to rush you, we have plenty of time.” He was putting the fixings on his juicy looking burger.
I took a deep breath, “So Blade, do you think you can tell me what the heck is going on? Between the gargoyles and the shop and…well…you, I’m feeling like I’m totally missing something. Like, my sanity.”
He held up a finger and took a giant bite of his burger. And then another. I listened to him hum as he enjoyed his meal while I picked at my own, the anticipation of what he had to say was greater than the hunger in my stomach.
After he had finished his burger, he signaled to the waitress that he wanted another cup of coffee. I rolled my eyes and he laughed, “Not funny, Blade. My parents are probably getting pissed that I’m not home yet.”
“You’ll just tell them you stayed after school to get to know the teachers and to get caught up with the classes. No big deal. Besides, your phone hasn’t even rung. They’re fine.” He covered his smile with the mug.
I threw a napkin at him, “Ugh, hurry up. I have a feeling you have quite an interesting story for me and I’m just dying to hear it.”
He cocked a brow, placed the cup down and grinned, “You’d better believe I do.”