Today I’m adding Chapter 7 to BLOOM, a fantasy-type story. If you want to read the first six chapters (each written by a different author and posted on his or her blog) go here.
Deafening silence woke me up. My eyes were closed, but I was wide-awake. Where was I? Not in my bed. It was too hard. The ground? No. I was on a bench of some sort.
Afraid to open my eyes until I had an idea of what was going on, I listened. Nothing. I remembered melodic swaying of the leaves. The leaves! How could I have forgotten? It took every ounce of will power I possessed to remain still, especially since I’d begun to itch like I had the measles or something.
Concentrate, Jessica. Think! The last thing I remembered Gran had passed out—or something—and I thought I saw Mom standing in the door. No doubt about it, I’d be on the next train to the loony farm. I just hope they don’t grow plants there.
If I’m gonna be crazy I might as well go all out. I dreamed I saw Jamie. He was watching me sleep and was really sorry he’d been so crappy to me and Gran. And he should be. We don’t care if he’s a genius, evil or otherwise, we’d just like for him to come home every once in a while.
All of this must have been a dream. But, where the heck was I?
I let my eyes creep open and I looked around. Couldn’t see much from this position. I slowly sat up and it seemed I was alone. The room resembled a church with pews, an altar and even a choir loft, but the ceiling was drooping, like the top of a tent with too much water on it. And the pews were getting all squishy. Ewww. Except for where I sat. It was still firm.
I ran my fingernail across the back of the seat and you won’t believe what I found. Well, by now you probably would. The pew was really a plant. In fact, it looked like the whole building was a giant tree or something. The limbs just made it seem like a structure. But that didn’t explain the pews…or the altar.
Whatever it was made from, it must have had some poison oak mixed in, ’cause I was itching like the dickens. I scratched my hand and my skin peeled away like I’d gotten a bad sunburn. I brushed the skin off my arms, my legs, my face and neck—every place I could reach. Underneath was a layer of gold. It wasn’t hard, like the Tin Man on the Wizard of Oz, but flesh-feeling gold, a metallic color. If it hadn’t had a sheen, I might could have passed it off as too much time in the tanning bed. Except anybody who knew me knew I was way too smart to get in one of those things.
I scratched my head and found my hair was matted, like it hadn’t been washed in a month. I reached back and pulled out the scrunchy, then ran my fingers through it, best I could. It was a tangled mess. I looked for my backpack—I had a comb in there—but it was nowhere to be found. I pulled the ends around. Instead of blond, sort of the color of honey, my hair was pink…and blue…and green…and silver, but not gold. I guess that was something. I probably wouldn’t look out of place in a big city like Seattle, but here—
My head snapped around. Standing under the sagging entrance of the chapel was the most gorgeous girl I’d ever seen—like one of those Bond girls in the James Bond movies. Even in green camo’s, I could tell she had a perfect figure. Red ringlets hung to her shoulders and her flawless skin made me that much more conscious of mine.
“You are Jessica, aren’t you?”
“Uh…yeah. Who are you?”
“I’m Wanda. Jamie’s girlfriend.”
That was when I knew I must be on drugs or something. Maybe the plants had LSD in them. I could accept my skin flaking off and turning gold and even my hair changing colors, but Jamie having a girlfriend who looked like this? No way.
“Really, who are you?”
“Really. I’m Jamie’s girlfriend. We work together at TS Labs.”
“You’re a scientist?” It came out all sexist-like, but she sure didn’t look like any scientist I’d ever seen on PBS.
“Yep. I’m a card-carrying scientist.”
When she smiled all I could think about were toothpaste commercials.
“Why’re you here?”
“Jamie was concerned about the soil sample you sent, and I drove him up here to check on you and your grandmother. I was talking to him on the phone and the call dropped. Now everything goes straight to his voice mail. He wouldn’t turn off his phone. Not with me at the hotel. The GPS says he was here when we were disconnected. Have you seen him?”
Jessica shook her head.
Wanda walked into the room and the top of the door collapsed behind her. She didn’t seem to notice. That whole side of the room was turning brown and shriveling up, like it was dying.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “Jamie never told me you were so…so—”
“So gold?” I finished for her. “I’m not. And for the record, my hair’s usually only one color. It’s these plants.”
“Do you know what’s going on?”
“No, but I think we should get out of here.”
The brown was creeping toward us. Actually, it seemed to be chasing us. I didn’t know who this chick was, but I grabbed her wrist and ran. “Come on. We’ve got to go.”
We made it outside as the building tumbled to the ground. That got her attention.
All of the plants that had been been made of colorful tin the last time I’d seen them now drooped. It looked like the color and the life had been sucked out of their roots.They seemed to point toward the path leading to the clearing by the river. What the heck?
“I think we should go this way,” I nodded toward the clearing. It was the way home.
“My jeep’s this way,” she countered. “I think we should get the hell out of here.”
It was a calculated risk, involving the sister. But all’s fair in love and war…or so they say.
When she was hired at Top Secret Lab, Wanda had her mission. She knew the stakes. And she was a professional—the best of the best.
Seducing Jamie had been easy. Falling for him, she hadn’t counted on. But, oh the benefits had been plentiful. She was back on track and the mission was on. Damn it.
If only she hadn’t met his parents in New Mexico.
Chapter Eight will be on Kacy Vanderkarr’s blog next Monday, July 23rd.