Baker’s Dozen Fiction Story – Chapter 1 by Joe Owens
Forrest Graham drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he waited for the traffic light to cycle through its pre-programmed circuit. He felt like there had to be a camera pointed at the cars approaching this light because it stopped him every day on the way to work. He knew it could very well be due to the fact he always arrived here within sixty seconds of the same moment every day, but he wanted to believe in the conspiracy idea more.
With a foot on the clutch and another on the brake he revved the engine as if he was ready to tear away as soon as the light gave him freedom. But he wouldn’t, because he never had. No, Forrest was a rule follower and never did anything that would mean trouble. It was something ingrained in him as a child. His father and mother made sure he knew his limits and never exceeded them.
Perhaps this is why Christina or Chrissie had rejected his marriage proposal the evening before. She said she was flattered, but did not think of him as the type of man she would want to spend her life with. Forrest expected her to use some lame line like “it’s not you, it’s me”, but she didn’t. She laid it all on him, making him feel like a waste of flesh.
Forrest ruminated on her words for the hundredth time and only snapped back to reality with the blaring of an air horn behind him. He stared at the rear view mirror which only showed the grill of a large construction truck. Forrest released the brake and drove on toward his office building.
Settling into his desk, he powered on his computer and waited for it to run through its start up routine. A trip to the break room rewarded him with a fresh Danish offered by someone with a birthday bounty, which he combined with a cup of coffee from the community pot. Forrest thought about Angie, the attractive blonde from Accounting who flirted with him every day. Maybe losing Chrissie was meant to be.
He sat back down at his desk and entered the password to start the work day. The e-mail program offered nothing unexpected and he looked forward to concentrating on work to forget about the dismal night before. At least that is what he told himself as he tried to shake the memories out of his consciousness.
A strange little icon appeared in the right corner of his desktop, a square with a circle inside and diamond within the circle. Forrest frowned, because he had just had his laptop returned by the onsite technical service guy for removal of spyware that came with an innocuous looking e-mail. Not wanting to go through this again he right clicked on the icon to delete it. Instead a program launched and filled his screen.
Text quickly filled the screen and began scrolling up at a dizzying speed. Forrest clicked all kinds of keys to try to stop it, but nothing seemed to make any difference. Suddenly another box opened in the middle of the screen atop the scrolling test that said: “YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO EXIT THE BUILDING! DO NOT HESITATE; YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN STOP THEM!”
Forrest blinked several times, re-reading the bold text, not knowing what to think. Five seconds later a timer flashed in the upper right hand corner of the screen and began to count down from five minutes. Forrest looked around for someone who could tell him this was a joke, but something inside told him it wasn’t.
He jumped to his feet and looked at the screen again as it loaded another sentence. He leaned down to read the next words as his heart began to race.
“IF YOU CHERISH ANYONE HERE, TAKE THEM WITH YOU AND RUN. YOU HAVE LESS THAN THREE MINUTES!!!!”
Forrest backed away from the computer with a shuffling of his feet, then turned and ran toward the elevator. He looked at the floor indicator to see both cars on the bottom floor. The door to the stairs made a clattering sound when he burst through it. He scrambled down two flights of stairs and threw the door open to the second floor and the Accounting suite. He sprinted through, looking for Angie, but did no see her anywhere. Feeling as if time was slipping away he turned for the stairs and headed for the exit.
Outside the front door he could see Angie just entering the parking lot. Breathing hard he ran to her car and pounded on her hood as he shook his head. Angie looked at him with an expression of “What gives?”
“We have to leave. Right now! I know it sounds crazy, but trust me. I don’t have time to explain.”
Angie liked Forrest. She had day dreamed of him saying something similar, but not in the same way. She felt urgency in his tone that scared her and her first reaction was to believe him.
She backed out of the parking space and rolled toward the ticket booth where the bar slowly raised to let her leave. As she rolled out on the street, she turned to look at Forrest, but he was staring at their building. Angie struggled to keep the car in the road as a deafening roar filled their ears. A wave of energy buffeted the car, causing her to scream and struggle to maintain control. In her mirror she could see a humongous fireball where their office building stood only moments before.
You can follow this link to Chapter 2 by Josh Magill. We appreciate all shares with your friends and followers! Look for Chapter 3 on May 11th!