The Obstacle Course

“Here,” Colin hands me a handkerchief. A real one. It is slightly rumpled but clean. I mumble a thank you and dab at my eyes.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Max says.

I agree, although I think it is an odd way to say it.

“We have to go down,” I say. It is more of a statement rather than a question. I am trying to talk myself into being brave, but both of the guys nod. It is me who takes the first step though.

The road is clear until you get to the aftermath, I am guessing that the police had kept it clear. It is a guess though as there are no police cars or any sign of cars. It is as if everyone ran out of here at once, taking every available vehicle. I can’t think what that would mean… What were they running from and do I really want to find out?

I have slowed but the guys pass me and I follow.

“They ran,” Colin says.

“But from what?” I ask.

Neither answers me. Colin looks as shocked as I am sure I do, but Max doesn’t seem surprised at all. In fact, after the airport he appears to have gone numb, almost hiding his emotions. I feel detached but I also feel everything. I’m trying to hold onto the panic but it is as if I am balanced on the very edge of a cliff. One small thing could make me tumble forward.

We reach the beds. Most are turned over, but some are standing upright, abandoned and stark. There are sheets crumpled into heaps all around and I wonder if they hide bodies. Colin seems to agree with me as he goes up to the nearest heap and grasps the sheet.

“I wouldn’t,” Max says.

“Why?” Colin asks.

“I just wouldn’t.”

Colin does anyway, ripping back the sheet to reveal nothing… Well, no body, but as the sheet flies into the air it releases a load of white ash. Ash? I step forward and put my hand into the cloud before it disperses. It is sort of like ash, but as the particles touch my skin they disappear and are gone.

“What?” I ask, turning to the guys.

Max is just blinking and moving away from us, his mouth opening and closing in shock. I don’t understand why he is so upset. It is just ash and a sheet.

“That isn’t supposed to happen…” he says, his voice rough and his eyes wide with horror. He turns a full circle and then looks back at us. “It was only meant to…” He stops.

“What?” Colin demands.

Max just shakes his head. I can see Colin getting angry and I wonder what Max has to do with all this. What does he know?

“What did you do?” Colin asks, stepping forward, into Max’s space.

Max holds out his hands in a peace gesture. “Nothing.”

“Really?” Colin says.

“Yes,” Max says, reaching into his pocket. He pulls out a pack of cigarettes. I find this really odd, as I’ve not seen him smoke, despite all the stress we’ve been under. “I didn’t have to do anything. It was already here when we landed.”

Colin looks at the red and white packet and steps back. “Don’t,” he says.

Max shakes his head. “It only works if you smoke it.”

I shake my head. “How…” I start, but then a bundle of sheets behind him moves. I scream and point.

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About Kate

Kate Murray has recently completed her Masters in Creative Writing and is currently working as an illustrator and writer. Her first anthology of short stories ‘The Phantom Horse’ was published in December 2013 and she subsequently has had another anthology published by Raging Aardvark; “Love Just Is” looks at the truth of love, in all its guises from romantic to obsessive. She is currently working on an anthology of ghost stories which should be published at the end of October 2014 and is also writing her first novel. Kate runs two blogs, one is about her life as a writer (kate0murray.wordpress.com) and the other is a serialisation of a novel, “The Gone”; a disaster hits the world while Bitsy is on a flight from Italy. She lands to find that the world is completely altered and she must learn to survive in a place where everyone is not who they appear to be (thegone.wordpress.com). Kate has had short stories published in magazines and e-zines, including ‘The Lampeter Review’, ‘Jotter’s United’, and ‘What The Dickens’. She has had short stories included in the ‘Twisted Tales 2013’ anthology published by Raging Aardvark, and the ‘Busker Anthology’ and ‘Spooky Tales Anthology’ published by What the Dickens. Kate’s artwork has been exhibited at the Museum Of Modern Art in Machynlleth where she was selected after entering the art competition and at Aberglasney Gardens as part of the Mid Wales Art group. Her artwork has been published by companies from Norway to Australia and her latest works will have illustrations in it. She has also had a series of line drawings published by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust in their biodiversity action plan. Kate currently works in the foothill of the Cambrian Mountains where she has a purpose built workshop that she affectionately calls her ‘house’ as she spends far more time in there than anywhere else.
This entry was posted in Chapter 4 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Obstacle Course

  1. Kate says:

    Reblogged this on Kate Murray and commented:

    The next installment of ‘The Gone’.

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