Today sees the return of my Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten Minutes writing exercise, and these are extra special because the prompts have been selected from my Prompt Me ebook. You are more than welcome to join in, I only ask that you tag me, so I can read your creations.
Week One’s Prompt:
What would you do if every book on your bookshelf has a page turned down and the first word of every page spells out a message to you?
The beach is heaving with sun chasers. I can barely glimpse the sea through the crowds. I prefer winter, when the ‘Beach Shack’ is cooler, and I’m making hot chocolates for the dog walkers, and not sweating to death serving ice creams to stressed parents with screaming kids. Andy’s idea of air con is a crappy fan that blows hot air around the shack, but I know that without the manic summer months, the Beach Shack wouldn’t survive, and I wouldn’t have a job.
As soon as the clock flicks to 6pm, I shut the serving hatch, and start the clean up. A knock on the back door, startles me, but it’s not unusual to get a cheeky holiday maker trying their luck at getting an ice cream or cold drink. I usually give them what they want- karma and all that.
Tonight, however, a suited and booted man stands in the doorway. “I’m looking for Willow.” He takes another step into the shack, allowing the door to bang shut behind him, and offers his hand. He looks to be in his late twenties with a shaved head and a tattoo behind his left ear.
“That’s me,” I say, shaking his hand.
“Andy sent me to introduce myself. I’m going to be joining the team,” he says, leaning back on his heels and surveying the shack.
I know I stare at him like a weirdo, but he’s totally taken me aback. “Andy’s hired you?”
“Yeah, you could do with some help, right?” He eyes me warily, taking another step into the shack.
“Andy can barely afford to keep me in a job. Sorry, I’m just a little shocked.”
“Oh, he has big plans for the place. You’ll be needing the help.”
Now, my shackles are up. Andy is a seventy year old man, with a head for traditions and the simple life. He refuses to sell any coffee other than Nescafe because he can’t pronounce cappucino.
The man leans against the counter, and crosses his ankles. There is a knot in my tummy, and his intense glare eats into my core.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
He continues to look around the shack, his eyes coming to rest on the bookshelf.Andy has a small shelf of exactly eightteen books that do nothing but gather dust. I’ve never looked to read them, and Andy said they were there when he bought the shack ten years ago. It would be weird to move them now.
“Well, Jai. It’s nice to meet you. Did Andy say when you’ll be starting? He’s a stickler for training. The man has a passion for a well made coffee. I’m sure he said, you’ll have to perfect the art of cappucino making before he’ll take you on,” I feign a laugh and a shrug.
“Oh yeah, he said my cappucino making skills would be the deal breaker. He was drinking one when I saw him, actually.”
Edging toward the door, I feel my heart beating throughout my whole body. I keep the mop and bucket in between us. I have no idea what is going on, but I know that every fiber of my body is screaming at me to get away from this Jai- if that’s even his name. Why is he lying?
He notices my sudden loss of composure, and his eyes flit over the menu. “You don’t sell cappucinos, do you?” He smiles, and wipes his thumb along his bottom lip. “Very good, Willow.”
I back in to the door. “Why are you really here? What do you want?” I ask, fighting the panic attack about to overcome me. I lunge for my phone in my bag that hangs on the rack, but Jai pre-empts me, tackling me into the wall, and wrapping his hand over my mouth as I scream bloody murder.
“Shut it, Willow! I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to help you.” Sobbing into his palm, I nod my head when he asks me to keep quiet. He slowly removes his hand and turns me to face him. “I guess I didn’t handle this very well, did I?” he says, wiping tears from my cheeks.
“Who are you?” I sob.
“I’ve already said- I’m Jai. I had to see how much you knew, but clearly you have no clue about any of this. I’m looking for something, something important. ”
“Then, look. Just let me go, please.”
He nods, but locks the door and takes the key. “Help me, and then you can leave. Where in this dive could someone hide a chip, SD Card, memory stick, something along those lines? Is there a safe?” He lets me go and walks to the far side of the shack.
“Yes, but it’s empty. I take the cash to Andy’s every night.” I hold myself in the corner, wondering if I can reach my phone without being noticed.
Jai growls. “Think Willow. Is there a cupboard? Something that is rarely used that could hide something?”
“Everything here is used. Except the books. They’ve not been touched in the five years I’ve worked here, probably not ever. I don’t know what you want from me!” I bawl at him.
Jai starts removing books from the shelf, then turning to me, he shows me the folded down pages at the front of every book. “Well, it seems that someone has touched them. Help me open them.” I do as I’m told. Crossing the shack, I take the first book. “Willow, tell me the first word on each folded page.”
Jai stares at me, his mouth hanging open. “Keep reading,” he orders.
She… is…the…key..to…opening…the… final…portal. What does that mean?” I ask. My shock at the hidden message makes me momentarily forget the situation I’m in.
“It means you’re coming with me.” He slips his hand under my arm, and pulls me toward the door.
“I’m not going anywhere with you! What has that message got to do with me?”
Jai sighs and spins on his heel to face me, taking my upper arms forcefully. “It means that you have exactly what my people need locked away in that pretty little head of yours. Your one of us, Willow.”
“One of who?”
“The Port Keepers. You’re the missing link.”
Content belongs to KJ.Chapman
Any prompts used must be associated with the author, KJ.Chapman