Monday, April 5, 2010

A peek at the WIP

Here's an excerpt from one of my WIPs that follows Slipping the Past. For those of you who've read Slipping the Past, can you tell me what might be chasing her here? It's not what you've expect. :)

Perhaps she’d misplaced it? Taken the skull home? Did she really have it on her desk or had she left it in the storage locker in the basement? It was late and she was tired and with the hours she’d been putting in, she was lucky to remember anything. No bigger than a paperweight, it could easily be misplaced, but she’d never been that careless.

Paxton had come across the crystal skull while reviewing the museum archives for an upcoming South American exhibit. She’d been doubly surprised to find the artifact tucked in the back of the old drawer in a small wooden crate, covered with dust, and even more surprised that the museum retained the artifact after science recently proved the others fakes. Unable to resist the mystery, she’d pulled the records of where it had been recovered and contacted the man who’d found it.

After several dinners and phone conversations, Paxton was certain of two things. One, the skull wasn’t a fake and two, she wanted it to be the centerpiece of her exhibit. Dr. Moore had authenticated it and with what she suspected, the crystal skull might be proof of alien visitation thousands of years before. Dr. Moore mentioned there had been others and he’d been closing in on their location by following Native American legend and lore. Something about what he said excited her and she’d become so obsessed she couldn’t stop researching.

She planned to mount an expedition to the wastelands in an area once known as New Mexico. When she’d announced her intentions during a bi-annual investors meeting, the boardroom went silent. Then laughter, snickering behind hands and ugly stares. Afterward, her boss pulled her into his office to tell her if she pursued her idea, she could hand in her resignation. The museum wouldn’t have a part in the historical debauchery she’d planned.

Of course she’d ignored him, knowing once he saw the proof, he’d be as excited as she. Dr. Moore, the man who found the relic, warned her to leave it alone. He’d lost his credibility, family and all he’d loved because of that relic. Worse yet, he was convinced they were being watched. She’d laughed it off as paranoia. Until now.

Paxton tugged her drawer open. Nothing. She slammed it shut and opened the next. Empty. Perhaps... She spun and ripped open the file cabinet. At least she had the file. She flipped through the drawer for the holo-disc. Um, maybe not. Okay, she’d put it right there.

She massaged her temples. Where the hell did everything go? She wasn’t hallucinating. The requisition form, inventory invoices, the photographs and maps of the dig. All the documentation had been in that file. She hadn’t left the office for more than five minutes to grab a cup of coffee and her office had been locked.

From outside a loud crash. Paxton glanced up at the clock. 2:00am. At this hour, only one person could be out there. What was he doing? Remodeling? She slipped her com on.

“Devin, you out there?”

Only static responded. She adjusted the volume. “Devin?” More sound out in the hall. Shadows flickered across the frosted glass on her office door. She’d locked it? Right? Paralyzed, Paxton swallowed and whispered. “Devin, this isn’t funny.”

The com went dead. Well, that couldn’t be good. She yanked it off and stood. Devin always answered when she called, even from the men’s room. It wasn’t like him.

“Who’s out there?”

The handle began to turn. Paxton squeaked and ran for the door. She slammed the bolt shut and jumped to the side. If she could see shadows through the frosted glass, whoever was out there could see in and she’d rather they not. She hit the lights and slid down the wall, until she sat on her heels. “I’m calling security.”

They didn’t seem too worried about it. Shadows danced along the bottom of the door. “The Enforcers are coming.”

The handle wiggled again.

Shit. Not good. Not only did that not seem to bother them, they hadn’t left. She’d seen enough horror shows to know the blonde caught alone in the office at the hour she’d been caught, always became worm fodder because of some guy with a big knife, or axe or machete. Oh please not a machete. With the war display down the hall, they could take their pick of any number of fun and exciting ways to gut her. She closed her eyes and visualized the inventory. No, the machete wasn’t so bad.

Someone threw their weight against the door. Paxton yipped. Okay, get the hell out of the office, dipshit. What are you waiting for? She bit her lip and crawled across the floor to a window behind her desk, scrambling as fast as she could on her hands and knees. Worm fodder, worm fodder, worm fodder.

The bolt would hold. The glass was shatter resistant, but that door… She’d been the idiot to request the hand-carved replica of an antique temple door. Balsa was an easy wood to carve or so she’d been told and it was glued to a hollow core cheapie. Nice secure choice, i-d-i-o-t.

She bit her lip, grabbed her purse and pulled the window open. Paxton kicked off her heels and stuck her head out. Five stories below was the street. Snow floated down so heavy it made it impossible to see the building across the way. Slick, windy, stupid, mustn’t forget the stupid part. “Oh God.” What had she gotten herself into?

Two windows over and she’d be in the kitchen. Maybe she need only ask what they want? Why risk her neck? “Can I help you?” she called.

The entire door shook and Paxton swallowed. Okay, that would be a no. She stuck her head back out. Fifteen feet, perhaps? From the kitchen she could exit into another hallway and take the fire escape to the ground floor where the security officer was stationed and hopefully alive. The door banged again as someone slammed into it. But then again, in the movies the psycho always got the guard first.

She climbed onto the brownstone sill and pressed her bottom against the stone blocks. This was crazy. She was crazy. The snow and rough surface would destroy her favorite silk suit. The door rattled again, vibrating the contents of her office. Who the fuck cared?

Don’t look down. Focus. You can do this. Step and slide. Step and slide. She shuffled sideways, pushing the snow along the ledge like a plow, refusing to even take a peek at the street below. She’d lose her courage and now was not the time or place for that.

In one hand she held her purse the other her Sling-backs hooked on a finger. Whoever was trying to break in had to have seen the light and thought that she might have the combination to the vault? Surely a thief, not someone that watched as Dr. Moore speculated. She had to believe that, anything else was too scary to contemplate.

Step and slide. Step and slide. She continued to move along the sill until the window was behind her. She pushed it open and crawled through. Not so bad. They couldn’t know she was in the kitchen, but she shouldn’t stick around for them to find out.

Paxton crept to the door and cracked it open. The corridor looked empty. Around the corner was her office and whoever was trying to break in. She’d have to go through the war exhibit to get to the fire escape and exit. She went to step into the hall and her feet remained glued. Going out there unarmed, not a good idea. At least her feet were being logical.

Paxton surveyed the kitchen. She yanked open a drawer and found a butter knife. Not the sharpest implement in the world but it would do in a pinch and if anyone was pinched, it was her.

She slipped her purse strap across her chest diagonally and yanked the refrigerator open. A half-eaten sandwich. Not helpful unless bologna could be turned into a lethal weapon. She eyed a jar of pickles. It had some heft to it and could be an effective missile, or she could bash someone over the head with it. Brilliant. She’d take that too.

A loud crash came from what was certainly her office. Time to get out of the kitchen. She tucked the butter knife in her waistband and tiptoed toward the war exhibit.

It didn’t take long before she heard footsteps behind her. She picked up the pace and ran past Genghis Khan, past Caesar and Marc Anthony to duck behind a bare-assed marble statue of a Greek warrior. She squatted down. The statue’s anatomically correct bits sat an inch from her face and stood erect as though they’d popped up to say hello.

She tried to ignore them, but the shadows cast by her outline and the statue, looked downright vulgar. Any other time and she’d probably laughed at how preposterous the situation was. As it was, the footsteps were too close for her to attempt to move. She’d have to take a chance they didn’t see the shadow and that meant remaining as still as the statue.

She slowed her breathing as the footsteps drew closer. Her fingers tightened around the pickle jar. As the man came around the statue, Paxton sprang. She raised the jar high and smashed it over his head with a loud scream.

The jar shattered and the man dropped with a grunt, bathed in dill and vinegar. She leaned in to get a look at her attacker and gasped.


He groaned in response.

Paxton shook his shoulder. “Are you okay?”

“Why the hell did you hit me?” A trickle of blood ran down his forehead.

“I thought you were after me.”

“My head hurts and everything is spinning. What’s that smell?”

This wouldn’t bode well for her employment.

“Don’t move. I’ll call for help.” Oh, hell. How was she going to explain this to her boss? Gee sir, I thought someone wanted to kill me so I brained the museum security with your pickles. Why would anyone want to kill me? Good question, sir. I was investigating that skull you told me to leave be. Yup, she could kiss this job goodbye.

Paxton plucked his headset free and slipped it on. “This is Dr. Paxton Silver. I need to call for medical transport. The New Stratus Museum of History. Head injury. Pickles. I didn’t stutter. He got hit with a jar of pickles.”

“You hit me with a jar of pickles?”

“I thought you were trying to kill me.”

“I was making my rounds. There’s nobody else here. You really have gone crazy like they said.”

“Who said that?”


“What do you mean I’ve never had accounts with you?”

“I’m sorry Ms. Silver, but the bank has no record of any accounts in your name.”

“I had accounts. Have…look.” She reached into her purse and extracted a chip, setting it in front of the woman. “Look. My name. My account number. My chip.”

The woman picked up the chip and zipped it across a scanner as though she was bored with the whole situation. She glanced at the screen and her eyes widened. Her gaze shifted back to Paxton then back to the screen. She cleared her throat and forced a smile. “Excuse me for one moment.” She rose with the chip in hand and headed for an area behind closed doors. For the second time that day, Paxton’s hair snapped erect. Something wasn’t right.

She leaned forward and turned the screen. Her picture was plastered on it with big, bold letters. “Security Alert. Wanted for fraud. Address unknown.” At least she had a place to hide. Paxton scrambled out of her seat and rushed as quickly for the doors as she could without running. Several of the bank employees lifted their heads from their work and looked at her. “Parked in a timed zone,” she spluttered.

She hit the doors and didn’t look back. They’d call the Enforcers and the Enforcers didn’t ask questions. Shit, shit, shit. She was a wanted criminal. She hadn’t done anything, but no one would believe her. First the pickle incident, then her forced leave from work and now her bank accounts. How was she going to get food to eat and pay her bills? But even that wasn’t the worst of it.

She was being deleted.

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