For this week’s BlogBattle, I’m continuing with my serial that I’ve affectionately dubbed Kristen’s Thriller.
I’m sorry, Kristen. The name will eventually change.
Either way, I hope that you all enjoy it. Things have. . . progressed.
You can find Part 1 here.
Kristen’s Thriller: Part 2
December 17, 2017
Five miles west of Copper Harbor, Michigan
Jonathan Carter opened his eyes in the soundless, grey light of morning. Without turning his head, he could see the glowing red numbers of the alarm clock he’d placed on his otherwise empty bedside table. Two more minutes and it would go off. He heaved a sigh and stared up at the cracked ceiling. It needed a new layer of paint, but he’d kept on putting it off for months now. As he watched, a flake of white drifted down to the floor by the window.
There’d been a time when he’d not needed a clock of any sort. Set his internal timer and he’d be up at three in the morning, or five, or whenever he wanted. Now he needed an alarm to make sure that he was even up on time. And he didn’t want to be up at eight. He’d wanted to be out on his morning run, chores done and breakfast eaten, by that alarm. Disgust at what age had wrought rolled through him. No two way about it, he was growing soft.
And there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.
A sharp buzzing, loud enough to sound throughout the six hundred square foot house, sounded in his ear. Groaning, Carter sat up, twisted, and put naked feet on the cold wooden floor. The chill in the air didn’t register on his naked body. That was just the way he liked it. A nice stiff chill to wake you up and get you motivated. He silenced the alarm with a disdainful slap and stood.
The room, painted a solid navy blue and void of any decoration, lightened as the sunlight crept through half-curtained windows. Dressing took only a moment as he drew on faded jeans, a plaid shirt, and thick, leather work boots. Glancing outside, he saw a thick layer of snow, pristine and unblemished. He’d need such warm clothing for today. His breath condensed in a cold mist as he headed downstairs.
Absently, he noticed the near empty wood bin next to the fireplace in what he considered his living room. That would need to be restocked today if he didn’t want to freeze tonight. Granted, he could have invested in modern conveniences to warm his house. Electric furnaces and the like were all fine and good, but his ancestors had survived using fire, and that was good enough for him.
Like the rest of the house, the living room and kitchen were bare-boned things, devoid of many of the comforts that made life easier. What Carter felt about heating held true in most other aspects of his life as well. A gas stove that looked to have survived the Korean War sat under a small window with a refrigerator that looked to have survived a nuclear blast. Across from the fireplace sat a brown suede couch, worn but in good shape, and a matching easy chair. The last wall contained floor to ceiling book cases, stuffed to the brim with novels of every size and shape. In the center of it all was a handmade pine table with four matching chairs waxed to a dull shine. The walls were painted a dull green and lacked any adornment save for a single framed picture which hung above the couch.
Carter noticed none of this, familiar as he was with the setting, as he pulled out eggs and sausages from the refrigerator. They went into a cast iron pan which was already heating on the stove. Soon the smells of fried eggs and sausage, comingled in the same pan, filled the room. His mind sorted aimless thoughts and registered which chores needed immediate attention as he ate his breakfast standing over the still hot skillet on the stove. The wood would have to come first. Nothing quite ruined a night as much as not having a fire for warmth. He’d had to do that numerous times back in his youth. That was one thing he didn’t miss; the cold, sleepless nights.
When the pan was cool enough to touch, into the sink it went to be cleaned later, along with the fork he’d used. The wood first, then a quick trip to town. Breakfast had used the last of his eggs and there were a few other things he’d need if he was to ever fix that leaky window upstairs in the bathroom. Then the car needed a tune-up, and he thought he’d noticed a family of squirrels taking up residence in the barn. The list went on. He considered each one before putting it on today’s to-do list or discarding it for another day.
The thing was that today, he had to be pickier than usual. Everything needed to be done before Samantha arrived today. What time had she said again? He couldn’t remember offhand. Around noon? She’d said there was some surprise she had for him, but wouldn’t say anything more on the matter. Not that he’d pried, but she knew how much he hated surprises.
The first flashbang crashed through the window above the stove, hitting Carter in the back before clattering to the floor. Old memories told him what it was before he could register it intentionally. Those same reflexes overturned the dining room table to cover the flashbang as he dove onto the floor beside the couch.
A blinding light obscured his vision at the same time as a deafening boom filled the room. Ringing filled his ears as he felt his way forward to the steps that led to his bedroom. IF he could reach there, he could—
Another crash and flash filled his world with pain, destroying what little recovery his body had been able to manage. Carter fell to the floor, hands gripping the sides of his head. He felt his lungs and throat burn with his screams, but he couldn’t hear anything. Another object hit him in the stomach, bouncing up his chest before hitting the floor. Explosions tore at his ears and he could feel blood seep from between his fingers. Wetness rolled down his face as well. Shaking fingers followed it up, and flinched away from his eyes and nose. Blood torn from his body due to the concussions only added their screams to his pain. The only part of his mind not blubbering in pain took over, its small voice whispering, pleading, for him to get upstairs.
Carter reached forward with blood soaked fingers, pulling his body forward by his fingernails. Who could have done this? Mossad? Russian Intelligence? The Chinese? Even the CIA wasn’t too farfetched. The list went on and on, expanding the more his mind worked, trying to distract him from the pain and what he was doing. Why wasn’t much of a question though. He knew too much, did too many things in his life. Another flashbang came in and landed next to him. His only real question was how’d they find him? All these years, he worked to remain anonymous; hiding in small towns and staying away from people. And if they could find him, then Samantha—
A new smell reached his nose and Carter flailed about to try and push it away. He missed several times before connecting with the edge of his hand. But by then it was too late. He could feel his mind slipping, losing all connection with the world.
He was already unconscious by the time his head hit the floor.