Flash Fiction: The Cooperative Cliffhanger Part 2

Last week’s challenge was to write a story that ended in a cliffhanger, and this week Chuck challenged us to finish someone else’s cliffhanger.

It is now done, but before we attend to the business of my story, I need you to go  JeffandWendy’s blog, and read the story, Simon and the Box, which I built my story on. I chose it because I like the pacing, the characterisation and the lovely open cliffhangerly ending.

Now, off you go.

 

Don’t worry. I’ll wait while you do.

 

**************annoyingly cheery elevator music********************

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********************loud wet fart*********************

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*******************embarrassed cough**********************

Ok, now that you’re back, here is the story I wrote. As you’ll notice I have switched POV, I hope you don’t mind.

 

Beast (Simon and the Box part 2)

by Trine Toft Schmidt

“No!” Cold terror and helpless fury washed down agent William Clearwell’s spine, as the foolish, idiotic kid slid the silver lock to the side and the box lid flipped open. “Son, close it back up. Hurry! Before…”

A visible shudder ran through the kid and then he arched violently backwards. The box tumbled out of his hands and bounced off the concrete, landing on its front edge in a narrow inverted V.

Clearwell locked his eyes, the boy forgotten, on the sliver of open box. He stepped carefully toward it, hoping to some lord above that he could close it up before the Beast was awakened.

“Don’t tell me we wasted two weeks, babysitting an empty fucking box?”

Jax was breathing hard and sounded angry. He strode past Clearwell, toward the box, his gun held out before him as if a bullet could do any damage to the Beast. Clearwell hissed a warning, but Jax just bent down casually and put his hand on the hinged back of the box.

For a short breathless second Clearwell thought Jax had succeeded, but then a swarm of shimmering near-translucent blackness slithered out of the crack. Jax jerked and his knees buckled. The almost-there black spread up his arm with lightening speed and a bone chilling cry of pure helpless agony escaped him and echoed off the buildings around them.

Clearwell cursed and turned around, already running. Jax was lost.

“Run, you fool!”

Sims stood, slack-jawed, and watched his partner get eaten alive. Clearwell was almost inside the semi-darkness of the parking garage when Sim’s thundered past him.

“We need a car.”

Sims instantly veered off the ramp toward an old beat up Chevy. He slid to a stop, yanked the door handle, which didn’t budge, pulled out his gun, all in one long fluid motion Clearwell would have admired on a better day.

With a short glance back at the ramp, Sims aimed a shot at the lock. He was in the car and had opened the passenger side before the noise stopped echoing off the grey concrete cavern around them. Clearwell threw himself inside, not taking his eyes off the sunlight that streamed down from the ramp, while Sims, with a worrying exhibition of skill, hot-wired the car. Black tendrils were snaking through the dusty sunlight.

“Fuck!” The huge man shouted at the steering column. Clearwell nodded. What the fuck, indeed. What a massive cock-up. But there was no time for recriminations.

“It’s coming. Just get us the fuck out of here.”

The engine sputtered and coughed to life and Sims slammed it into gear, revving wildly. Clearwell reached up and grabbed the handlebar and felt his phone vibrating against his chest like an extra heart beat. He slid it out with his free hand.

It said LP on the screen. He swore loudly, trying to divide his focus between the growing shadows on the ramp and the extra shaft of primal fear that surged through him, when he saw the name. Louis Pontneuf was probably the most dangerous man in America and had a vested interest in the box and the Beast. This was not a conversation he wanted to have right now. He slid the phone back into his pocket. He would deal with it later.

Above them the sun once more filtered unhindered down from the ramp.

A few seconds later the exit to the street loomed brightly up ahead. Sims slammed the brakes and the car rocked to a stop a few inches from the gate.

Realisation hit Clearwell out of the blue.

The box.

It was still on the roof, and there was no way to trap or keep the Beast without its magical properties.

He hammered his hand into the dashboard, cracking the dusty black vinyl. But it couldn’t be helped. There was no way he was venturing back up on that roof just yet.

“Back to the motel, we need our gear.” He patted his hip holster and his beloved reliable SIG p226. For once it couldn’t be trusted to do the job. Sims nodded and floored the accelerator, crashing through the gate.

The dusty old town lay quiet and apparently blissfully unaware of the danger, some stupid kid with no clue had just released upon them. The sky was still blue and the sun still flickered happily in shards of broken glass in the gutter. From an open window somewhere heavy Latino rhythms danced in sync with the sway of a breeze through tall grass on an empty lot.

The magnitude of the job ahead was beyond daunting.

Their motel, a run-down Happy Days Motel, lay on the outskirts of town, facing endless stretches of overgrown plots waiting for the economy to pick up again. Off in the distance, blue mountain ridges framed the depressing emptiness.

Their car was where they’d abandoned it, outside unit 35. Sims cut the engine next to it and turned in his seat.

“How are the hell we going to find it? Let alone catch it?”

He swiped a broad hand against the expanse of fuck-all. Clearwell didn’t know what to say. How do you find a metamorphic evil creature, someone, in some dark distant past, had stuffed it into a wooden box, like some cheap imitation Genii. He glanced at his watch. Forty minutes. That was how long they’d been gone. It felt like days had passed since the cretin had swiped the box from Jax.

The trunk was luckily still heaped high with overnight bags, smelling of dirty socks and tired shirts, and Clearwell unceremoniously dumped it all on the pavement and pulled out the black nylon duffel bag stuffed into the far corner of the trunk. He nodded toward the driver’s side locking eyes with Sims.

“Let’s go.”

Sims nodded back and was about to get in, when a low deep rumble filled the air and vibrated up through the ground. Clearwell froze as a huge winged creature rose behind the motel on shimmering black wings. The colour was more solid now, he noted absentmindedly, as it opened it’s maw impossibly wide and dropped into a fall above them. He wanted to move, wanted to jam his hand into the bag and pull out the weapons, but he was glued to the spot, unable to move. Somewhere behind him he could hear Sims moan.

 

 

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