Monday, February 20, 2012

Chapter 3

Ibola slept for a few hours, and awoke in the early morning in a pocket. The shadows of the room seemed off, and there was a long, dark shape across the window; she heard something creaking within the room, almost breathing, and Adam was gone. Ibola cried out, and stood up with her heart pounding; but as her eyes got used to the dawn light, she realized that the shape outside the window was broken pounding. The sound was the sound of a boiler, and the shadows were off because of the flickering light. As for Adam, if the creature, the monster, had taken him, it had given him time to dress and gather his personal items before stealing him away. She calmed down, and sat on the bed.

Adam burst through the door, a bag in hand, "Ibola-- are you okay?"

"I thought it had taken you-- sorry, I was silly," Ibola smiled, a little embarrassed.

"No, it's okay... I spent half of last night awake, terrified that the boiler was coming after us," Adam returned the smile, though it didn't reach his eyes, "I bought some clothes? And there's food next door, then Christian'll pick us up--"

The room's phone rang, interrupting his train of thought. Both of them froze. Adam picked up the receiver; "There is a phone call for you at the front desk," said the clipped voice, before hanging up.

Adam stood and walked to the door; "You're really going?" Ibola asked, "It almost certainly a trap."

"Yeah, but I want to find out who's trying to trap us. Why would the-- the monster want to 'set us up' if he can break into our room while we sleep."

Ibola said nothing, but started going through the bags of clothes, and Adam went down the stairs to the front desk.

He picked up the phone, his eye on the front desk manager. There was nobody else in the lobby, "Hello?" He asked.

"Adam Greene, I'm presuming?" The voice on the line was female, with a harsh tone and a British accent, "Don't speak, I know you are. Now, I'm here to offer you a deal. I can get you Dande, and I can get you back into the United States-- for free, as well. I can help you-- but only if you help me."

"What do you want?"

"Come to the Bear and Bull pub in London, in Croydon," the voice said, "Order two Cokes and a half shot of vodka. I'll explain more there."

"I--" Adam began, but his voice was met with a dial tone. He sighed, confused, and turned to go back up the stairs. Ibola met him at the bottom of the steps, their few possessions in tow. 

"I feel like I can't breathe in here. Let's leave," Ibola said, "We can wait for Christian outside." Adam nodded as a response, though he didn't feel so sure. They waited outside in the cool morning air, as the city slowly made its way back to life. Christian drove up in the jeep, and they hopped in the back. He drove to a grocery store on the edge of town, and hopped out of the front.

"If you guys don't mind loading up the car, I'm going to go pay Eddie, the manager. Be right back."

Adam jogged over to the car, and leaned down to pick up a box. He recoiled, eyes wide, his nose wrinkling. "What's wrong, friend? You've handled a chicken before, surely? A box of them is no different," Christian said innocently. He laughed, "I'm sure your lady friend knows how to work with chickens-- Ms. Ibola, will you give me a hand?" Ibola stared at the boxes but did as she was told. They lifted the relatively heavy box onto the back of the truck, where it stacked beside similar ones, of the same type. Then, Christian went over to the storekeeper, who was bringing the boxes to the back of the truck. They distracted each other well enough for Adam to lean over to Ibola, "Do you see that?" He said, "or am I going mad?"

"You're not going mad," Ibola said quietly, her voice a little choked. In the boxes that were piled behind the car and on its flatbed were scores of bloody hands. They looked like they had been wrenched off by knives, and were clammy and rotten looking. Blood was dripping out of the boxes. Ibola glanced at Christian and the shopkeeper-- they were laughing. "Maybe we're both mad," she said faintly.

"We should take this as a warning-- he's under the control of the monster," Adam said, looking queasy.

Ibola put a finger to her lips, straining her ears, "Listen," she said. They were quiet, and beyond the sound of the conversation between Christian and the shopkeeper, beyond the sounds of the town waking up, was a faint clucking.

"Why would-- why the hallucination?" Asked Adam.

"Don't look at me like I know anything, Adam." Ibola replied.

Christian walked back to the car, beaming, "We just have to load these boxes up and then we can be on our way. I'm sure you want to get on as soon as possible."

"Thank you," Ibola replied. Adam said nothing. The three loaded the boxes of faintly clucking hands onto the back of the truck, then hopped into the front of it. Christian started talking about his family, his business, the news about riots throughout the Middle East.

"Of course," he said, "We aren't really the 'Middle East', we're practically Europe! I can't see anything going wrong up here."

Ibola and Adam sat silently, too nervous about the hands in the boxes to really talk about anything. Occasionally, a faint cluck made it over the sounds of the engine.

"It should be about 5 hours to Rabat. But we might have to take a little more time, because of problems with the road, but hopefully it'll be a smooth ride!"

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