Regular readers may remember a project undertaken some time ago by Splotchy to create a 'viral story'. Irregular readers may not.
The premise, for the uninitiated, and in the creator's own words, is this:
"...Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.
If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.
Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours."
The story begins thusly:
I had been shuffling around the house for a few hours and already felt tired. The doorbell rang. I opened the front door and saw a figure striding away from the house, quickly and purposefully. I looked down and saw a bulky envelope. I picked it up. The handwriting was smudged and cramped, and I could only make out a few words.
I looked up and down the street but didn’t see any delivery truck, or any car for that matter. No FedEx, no UPS , no creepy-looking porno'd-out conversion van with a half-assed delivery service sign taped to its side. Nothing. It's like delivery man just disappeared. I stepped back inside, re-set the deadbolts and took a closer look at the envelope.
Mentally I ran through the checklist of letter bomb warning signs. The handwriting on the envelope, smudged and cramped as it was, was laid out in a tiny, obsessively neat block lettering. It practically screamed recently-de-institutionalized loner with time on his hands. No ticking or whirring sounds, that’s good. No odd smells, no leaks or stains on the package. Check. Weight seemed evenly distributed, that’s good too. I decided to open it.
Inside I found a plane ticket to Pensacola, a business card for a lawyer in Niceville, five crisp $100 bills and a four page handwritten note. Well. This was different. I poured a cup of coffee, threw some meat to the dogs to stop em barking, and sat down to read. (Bubs)
The handwriting of the letter was different than the envelope. It was more rushed, erratic. And it was all in Russian. I could speak a little Russian because of the company I used to keep, but couldn't read it to save my life. I knew some people that could translate for me, but I wasn't about to see them again. Or did one of them write the note? Was it Dimitri the Finger? Petrov? Ivankovich?
I looked at the lawyer's card -- "Tom Ely" -- how whitebread, how American. The address said Niceville, but the phone number's area code was New Jersey. I dialed and waited. My dogs fought over a leftover bone outside, growling.
"Hello, this is Tom Ely, I am sorry I have missed your call..."
I didn't recognize the voice. It had the barest trace of an accent. Most people wouldn't pick up on it. But I did.
The Russians. What was I in for? I hung up.
Was I just going to sit here, waiting? Or was I going to be a good little dog when some person unseen rang my bell?
The ticket was for today. I could make the flight if I left immediately. I packed a bag and caught a cab to the airport.
The pressures of today's economy. Flight cancelled. Airline out-of-business. Three months ago. Something was out of sorts, here. Why would someone send me a ticket on a defunct airline? I was starting to feel exposed, out in the open, like prey in a valley.
First order of business was to hit the head. I needed to collect myself and not draw attention. I forced myself to walk, even with the hairs on the back of my neck bristling, uncertain if, even now, someone was following. Had I walked into some kind of trap?
The men's room door opened just a little too quickly, the screws loosened from constant use. That sticky smell hit me as that horrible men's room air shot into my nose.
Something was wrong.
I felt heavy and thick, and saw the world go askew. I was off balance before it even registered that something hard had been jabbed into the back of my neck. I put my hand against the wall to stop myself, but the back of my head exploded in pain, I saw a flash of light, and then nothing.
When I came to, I was no longer in the men's room; I was in the back of a moving vehicle, a walk-through panel truck - a delivery van, perhaps. My feet were free, but my hands were bound securely behind my back. Care had been taken not to cut off my circulation, so whoever it was knew what he was doing.
"Hey!" I yelled to the two men in the cab. The passenger looked back at me, his face impassive under a Denver Broncos cap that was a size too small for his head.
"No talking." He turned forward again, saying something in a language I didn't understand to the driver.
"Where are we going?" I said, struggling to a sitting position. I tested the ropes binding my wrists, but my name not being Houdini, there was no way I was going to undo them. When I looked up, Broncos Cap was staring at me again. So was the business end of a 9mm automatic.
"I said for no talking."
I decided he might have a point, and sat back to enjoy the ride and wonder about where I was being delivered...
What will happen next?
Perhaps (if not already tagged, or even if) Arjan, The Imaginary Reviewer, PJ and Ray might care to continue...