Welcome to Free Fiction Friday! Every week, I’ll be posting a scene or two (in order, of course!) from my book, Jivaja. If you want to read along, just come on back every Friday!
Some scenes will be shorter, several hundred words. Some will be a thousand or more. Read them in order though, otherwise none of this will make sense!
Follow along as Mecca, a young woman with a Gift for manipulating human life force, runs head-first into a shadowy vampire-like society that discovers her power and wants to use her.
If you missed any parts, head over to the Jivaja Table of Contents to get caught up!
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Chapter Four – Mecca, Part Two
Mecca bounded down the great stone steps of the library, her mind racing. A chilly gust of wind slid against her skin. October in Atlanta brought the cooler days that people wished for in the August humidity. Mecca hadn’t thought to bring a jacket this afternoon and the cool night breeze skimmed along her skin.
As she strode down the darkened campus sidewalk, her satchel, stuffed with her class notebooks and the articles, banged against her hip. She fought the urge to stop and pull out the printed website with her dad’s picture on it. Walking across the quad at one in the morning wouldn’t be the best time or place.
Silence blanketed the campus. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. Usually, students wandered around at all hours. She wasn’t the only one who had to be ushered out of the library, but not many people milled about now. She welcomed the solitude tonight, even though it was eerie.
That photo kept creeping into her mind. Her father’s eyes.
The overcast sky locked away the moon and stars, casting the pathway in shadow.
Streetlamps scattered throughout the quad created circular pools of light, like island oases in the darkness, soft and inviting. Mecca moved from one to the other hardly seeing them.
The chirp of her cell phone jerked her out of her thoughts. With a sigh, she answered and put some false cheer into her voice. “Hey, Josie.”
“Mecca, where the hell have you been? I’ve left you five hundred messages!” Usually, Josie was the most laid back person in their little group, made up mostly of track people. She was the first person Mecca had met at college. Roommates their freshman year, they’d been inseparable and their relationship remained close through their sophomore and junior years as well.
Lately, though, Josie was acting more like a mom than a roommate.
“Sorry,” Mecca said. “I forgot about a paper, so I’m really behind. I’ve spent most of my time in the library this week.” Not a complete lie.
“You’ve been blowing off practice for a paper? Coach is pissed at you. He thinks you won’t be ready for the meet on Saturday. He’s ready to throw you off the team.”
Mecca hiked her bag up farther on her shoulder. “I’ll be ready. Tell him I’ll be ready.”
“You’re not going to practice tomorrow either?”
“Look, this is a big paper. I’m almost done. A couple more days and things will get back to normal.” I hope.
“What is going on with you lately?” Mecca could almost see Josie’s pale eyebrows knitting into a worried furrow. “Mecca–”
“Jo, I need to go, okay? I’ll call you tomorrow.” She disconnected without waiting for a response, too worn out to deal with Josie or the track coach.
As much as she tried to avoid it, her mind kept going back to that fuzzy photo of her dad. Mecca had always loved hearing the stories about him — an older widower — meeting her mother and their whirlwind romance. Mecca had been on the way before they’d even been married.
Some of her favorite stories had been the Romeo and Juliet-like family tensions. Dad’s side didn’t have a problem with Mom. But Mom’s side… He just didn’t fit in with his flat-top hair-cut, bright blue eyes and the tanned skin of an Ivy League college athlete. It was no family secret that Gram and Grandpa Stone hated that their daughter had married a white man.
That act had caused a great deal of turmoil at the Stone family gatherings. But within their own immediate family circle, they’d been picture-perfect. Until her mom got sick.
How could that website say such terrible things? Her dad couldn’t have done anything to those women. He didn’t even have the Gift. It skipped him. Uncle Ken had it, her grandfather had it. But her dad didn’t.
She entered The Tunnel It had built under Moreland Avenue so that students wouldn’t have to cross the busy, four-lane road to get to the dorms at Atlanta State University. The Tunnel had an actual name, but no one ever remembered it. Everyone just called it the Tunnel.
Fluorescents on the ceiling lit the round walls, making the explicit graffiti easier to read. One light near the far opening flickered. Moreland fed into Little Five Points a few miles down and even at one in the morning, the sounds of traffic overhead rumbled through the Tunnel’s walls.
With heavy steps, she trudged on. She planned to read the strange article and mull over that picture when she got to the dorm. She wanted to know what it said, yet… she didn’t.
Sometimes things happen in life that throw you off a cliff, making your world careen out of sync. Mecca couldn’t keep back the feeling that she was about to take a flying dive.
As she reached the dorm end of the Tunnel, three dark figures stepped in from the sides, blocking the exit. She stopped, her heart pounding double-time.Read some #FreeFictionFriday! ~ As she reached the dorm end of the Tunnel, three dark figures stepped in from the sides, blocking the exit. She stopped, her heart pounding double-time. Click To Tweet
“Hello?” Mecca hitched her satchel farther up on her shoulder, dread and fear mingling in her veins. None of the figures replied.
She could backtrack and outrun them. At least running she’d have a chance.
She glanced over her shoulder. Two more figures approached from where she’d just come, each in black, long sleeves and gloves. Ski masks covered their faces. Ski masks.
How long had they been behind her? Had she just walked into their trap, oblivious?
Mecca’s heart banged inside her rib cage. She searched for a way out. If she could break through, she could put distance between herself and them. She moved in a slow circle, trying to keep an eye on all of them, and waited for an opportunity. They crept toward her, keeping their distance, but that couldn’t last.
As they drew closer, the guy on her left moved farther into the Tunnel, creating a small gap between him and the wall. If he just moved a little bit more, she might be able to make a run for it. Her bag weighed heavy on her shoulder, but she couldn’t drop it. She couldn’t leave it.
Who are they? This seemed so surreal.
There. An opening. She could make it if she moved fast enough.
The gap widened another foot and she darted forward, her gaze fixed on the darkness she knew was her freedom. Her assailants shouted as she passed the guy on her left. Her shoulder slammed into him. The collision threw her off balance only momentarily. It was enough. They fell onto her in a flash.
Being on the track team for six years, counting high school, had made her strong and fast, but they seemed faster. Hands scooped her up; arms wrapped around her waist and lifted her from the ground like a child. She kicked and pushed at them, trying to shove her attackers away, trying to find another out. A scream burst from her lungs.
She twisted violently. Her feet slammed to the ground and sent a jarring rattle up her legs. Her bag dropped to the cement with a thud as they hoisted her up again.
“Don’t touch her skin! Get the needle in her!” A man’s voice. An accent.
White hot pain seared the side of her neck, and then cold radiated through her body. Ice slipped into her veins. They let her feet drop to the ground and she willed her leaden legs to run. But she couldn’t get any of her limbs to move the way she wanted.
Run, damn it!
The figures in her vision doubled and she staggered, blinking hard in an effort to clear her gaze. Everything went soft around the edges. Fuzzy. They all stepped back, watching her as she stumbled. They removed their masks, but she couldn’t focus on details of their faces. Her knees hit the ground and she groaned. Then one of the black figures heaved her up and dragged her arm over his shoulders. He began to walk with her as if she’d gotten drunk. Her head lolled. That same voice with the strange accent spoke. Was it Irish?
“This’ll make Emilia happy.”
Chapter Four – Mecca, Part Three
Mecca jerked awake and struggled to sit up, her head fuzzy and aching. She’d dreamt about a Christmas when she’d been small, five or six at the most. Mom had been coughing on Christmas Day. For the first time, Mecca had realized that her mother was sick.
The room’s bright light hurt her eyes. She tried to raise her hand to her head, but couldn’t. Thick leather restraints circled her wrists, fixing them to a hospital bedrail. An I.V. hung nearby, the plastic tube leading to the top of her hand. She stared at the restraints.
What the hell?
Curling her fists, Mecca yanked. The rattle of the chain tethering her to the bed rang out sharply in the quiet room. She pulled until the leather bit into her wrists.
They (who?) had dressed her in a stark, white gown which reached to her knees. Matching cuffs held her legs tight and a wide belt extended across her hips and fastened somewhere under the bed, pinning her lower half down. She thrashed against the leather, trying not to let panic overtake her. Bile rose to her throat, and a wave of nausea roiled through her belly. A firm hand pressed against the middle of her chest and pushed her back down. Mecca jumped. The room had been so silent. She hadn’t realized someone was here.
“Stay still. Too much movement will make you ill.”
Mecca followed the deep and gentle voice into eyes the color of walnuts. A dark brown circle, almost black, rimmed the irises and thick, long lashes framed them. His eyes complemented his dark honey complexion and wavy chestnut hair.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
Mecca yanked against the wrist restraints again and immediately regretted it. A bolt of pain shot through her head and perched above her eyes like a vulture in a tree. “Let me go.” She’d meant to yell, but her voice came out small and hoarse.
“Sorry. I don’t have that ability.” He took her wrist in his hand and slid two warm fingers beneath the cuff, rubbing gently until he found her pulse.
The headache beating at her eased by a degree or two. She’d drawn energy from his touch without meaning to. Not much, but a little. Were whatever drugs they had dumped into her screwing up her control? She clamped down on her Gift. A sickly stab of nausea again poked at her belly.
“Are you all right?” he asked. “You look a bit green.” He felt her forehead.
He didn’t look like a kidnapper. He didn’t look like he meant her harm. Of course, neither had Hayden. And Mecca was a lot more vulnerable bound to the bed than she’d been in the coffee house.
“Why am I here? Who are you?”
“I’m Will. The rest of your questions will have to wait. I can’t give you the answers. Emilia will be here soon. She wants to speak with you.” Will unfolded a crisp ivory sheet and draped it over her, the fabric billowing down over her legs and torso. “Sorry about the lack of privacy.”
“Who undressed me?” Blood rushed to her cheeks and warmed them.
“And sorry again. That would be me. But your clothes weren’t damaged at all and are safely put away.” He smiled, showing even, but slightly yellowed teeth as he picked up a clipboard and made a note.
“You can’t keep me here.”
“Sadly, we can.” Will’s smile didn’t fade as he turned away.
Her head throbbed. She wasn’t in a proper hospital, that was for sure. A chair rail bisected the room, dividing the burgundy upper walls from the rich velveted lower walls. She’d never seen velvet wallpaper. Thick-framed paintings hung on each wall, depicting sun-washed scenes of family outings. Crown molding highlighted the tall ceiling. A small crystal chandelier lit the room, sometimes throwing colored rays along the walls.
In the far corner, a narrow door, stained a rich brown to match the chair rail, was closed. Above the doorknob, a black electronic scanner. Her unease threatened to take her over.
Mecca drew in a feep breath and tried to settle herself.
Against the wall near the door, Mecca’s satchel laid beneath a pine writing desk, propped against a heavily engraved leg. A burgundy upholstered Queen Anne wing chair was tucked against the desk. Papers lay scattered across the desk’s surface. She couldn’t see the writing on the papers from her bed. Were those the things she’d printed out at the library?
“How long have I been here?”
Will didn’t reply, his attention focused on sucking some liquid into a syringe.
“My dad will call the police. They’ll find me.”
Will turned back to her with the syringe poised in one hand. “They’ll find you if Emilia wants them to find you.” He slipped the needle into the butterfly portal of the I.V. and pushed the plunger. It only took moments before Mecca’s eyelids became heavy.
“What do you want with me?” She knew her words were jumbled, but she kept trying to speak, even as darkness clouded in. “Let me go.”
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