The Traveling Story – Season 1 – Episode 5

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THE TRAVELING STORY!

What is the Traveling Story?

5 Authors. 5 Days. 1 Story.

Each season of The Traveling Story will feature 5 well-known authors collaborating on one original, kick-ass story, with each author writing one of five episodes.

The full story will be revealed over the course of a week, with each episode appearing on the blog of the author who wrote it.

How Does it Work?

There are only three rules for The Traveling Story:

1) No brainstorming, outlining, or discussion of plot ahead of time. The first author writes the first episode of ANY kind of story they want and the next author picks up where that episode leaves off, taking it WHEREVER they want to go! The last author ends the story however they see fit!

2) An author cannot make changes to any previous episode. Each author has total creative control over their OWN episode only, but it has to continue where the last episode leaves off.

3) HAVE FUN! As you’ll see from the awesome story that came out of this, we don’t take ourselves too seriously! The Traveling Story is meant to be fun for the writers but especially for the readers!

Season 1 Authors:

Jessica Brody
Jessica Khoury
Emmy Laybourne
Lish McBride
Gretchen McNeil

*Don’t forget to LIKE The Traveling Story on Facebook where we’ll be posting links to EVERY episode, so you never miss out on a piece of the story!

 


Episode 5

by Emmy Laybourne

Much to my annoyance, the cute brunette with the glasses, whose life I had just very nicely saved, refused to come with me!

“Game over!” she cried. “Olly olly oxen free. I give up!”

“Come now,” I insisted. “Let’s just move out of the way, shall we?”

“Wait, is that accent even real?” she asked me.

“Of course it’s bloody real! Do you think this is Masterpiece Theatre or something?” I gestured to the scene around us.

Out of every corner of the black night, operatives descended. They popped up from behind the statue, vaulted over low stone wall encircling the area, dropped down from trees, came rolling in from every which way. Show offs.

Meanwhile the aliens were oozing plasma out of their giant bug eyes and squealing hideously. The flash-bomb was a total success. The guys in the lab will be so pleased.

The queen  alien was especially squeally and it was because I’d snatched away her post-moult snack, my fair, bespeckled Lucy. I have to admit, it was clever of the alien conspirator, Rasul, to bring a snack for his new queen. Or was it some directive from his superior Gretchen. Fingers crossed Rasul is forthcoming in his questioning – the agency has been trying to nab Gretchen for years.

The lovely girl in my arms was babbling something about role playing and out-of-work actors.

She was clearly in shock. I noted the way her blue eyes were fully dialated, how her breathing seemed rapid. I could see her pulse pounding in the delicate lines of her neck.

Then I reminded myself to focus. I could not mess this up. I had already screwed up this assignment royally and it was my very first! I admit it, giving the box to the wrong girl was a pretty catastrophic mistake. But really, what kind of girl lies and says her name is Hilda Otterbum? Of all the idiotic names to claim, Hilda Otterbum takes the cake.

I needed this to go well. If I botched the clean-up I might as well move back to Bromley and take that position at my father’s Garden supply shop.

“This way please,” I said to Lucy, gently coaxing her away from the extraterrestrial crime scene.

The operatives started firing tranqs at the blinded aliens, as planned. The aliens began to claw each other in their terror. Between the oozing and the screeching and the clawing – really, it’s was a bit overwhelming, even for me, and I’m a trained professional.

Lucy suddenly seemed to snap to attention. She seemed to realize she had her purse around he wrist and she dug into it, coming up with a Smith and Wesson Mark 22 “Hush Puppy.”

Oh, be still my heart!

She held up her Smith and Wesson and pointed it shakily in my direction.

“I want some answers,” she told me.

“Now, now. Lower your weapon so that swat team doesn’t think you’re a legitimate threat,” I said. “And by the way, I can tell that it’s unloaded.”

“Really?” she asked. “How?”

“There’s no magazine clip.”

“Oh, rats,” she said.

“Listen, give me the gun and I’ll answer your questions.”

She sighed and handed it over.

What a beautiful hand-feel. Just a supremely balanced firearm, even missing the clip. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

I put my hand on her arm and led her about twenty paces away. The team was now securing the writhing aliens in the tencel nets the lab designed for this purpose. The lab guys would be pleased again. They’ll probably get a promotion.

“Where’s Cindy? What happened to her?” Lucy asked me. She squinted into the darkness.  “Why are they arresting Rasul? Were those aliens… were those aliens…”

I could almost see her questioning her own sanity.

“Yes,” I told her. “Aliens.”

“You mean the Gorn are real?!”

“Gorn?!” I asked. “You mean like from Star Trek?” I couldn’t help but laugh.

“What do you call them?” she asked. Her blue eyes flashed behind her heavy spectacles. You know the type of glasses – the type that make you want to take them off and kiss the girl who’s wearing them.

Steady, I told myself. You’ve still got a mess to dig yourself out of.

“We call them XYLITRONSK. That’s what they call themselves.”

“And that’s somehow less silly than Gorn?!” she demanded.

“Look, can I please take you somewhere quiet to explain it all to you?” I asked her. I cleared my throat. It wasn’t easy for me to admit the screwup I’d made. “You can trust me.”

“No, I can’t!” she said. She was flushed and flustered and, god, she was pretty. “You, Mr. Secret Agent Guy, are totally, improbably, supernaturally hot. You’re probably the grand emperor of a tribe of galactic hotties–!”

What I really wanted to do was just kiss her. Just kiss her until her glasses were askew. But that would be the height of unprofessionalism.

I could see the team hoisting the aliens into an unmarked van.

Agent Trent called me over, “Come on McMahon, we’re headed back to the base. Get ‘er done.”

I locked eyes with Lucy.

“It’s my fault that you got wrapped up in this. We knew Rasul was an agent, working for Gretchen, an alien sympathizer. We didn’t know who the queen’s host was. But obviously it was your friend—”

“Cindy. She was nice,” Lucy sniffed. “Well, not nice, but she loved her sister. She was a good person.”

I hugged Lucy to me.

“McMahon! Quit pawing the girl. We’re moving out!” Trent shouted again.

“Listen,” I told her. “I should never have given you the box. But you responded to my question. You said you were—“

“Hilda Otterbum,” she answered, breathless.

“Yeah, and I was so… so taken with how you looked and how charming you were… All that stuff about you faking you didn’t know about ‘implementation.’ It was…”

“Embarrassing,” she said. “I acted like a dork.”

“No! I thought I was in the presence of a master illusionist. When you said you were ‘new-ish’… I thought…”

I broke away from her inquisitive gaze. I was horrified to feel a blush coming on. A secret government operative who blushes when he talks to pretty girls – no wonder I’m going to get canned tomorrow.

“What?” she asked me, gently.

Trent was walking over to us by this point and he looked furious.

“She gonna take the serum, or do you need an injector?” he asked me.

I’m newish,” I told her. “I thought you were teasing me. I thought you could see how nervous I was about doing my first big assignment.”

“Jesus, McMahon. You haven’t given it to her yet?” Trent’s expression clearly expressed what a screw-up I was.

“Given me what?” Lucy asked.

“Listen,” I told her. “I’d like to take you on a date. Would you go on a date with me? Can we have another chance? If we’d never met before, if you didn’t know anything about me—would you go out with me?”

“Of course,” Lucy told me. Her eyes found mine and there was a light there, a connection. “In a heartbeat.”

Something lit up in my chest.

“Right, then, that settles it. Here, eat this mint,” I told her.

“A mint?! What are you talking about?” she asked. “Is it my breath?”

I shushed her, putting my finger up to her lips. And then I popped the small, round mint into her mouth.

Instantly I saw her gaze soften.

She melted into my arms and I lifted her gently. She was so beautiful and innocent and, yes, somewhat gangly, in an endearing way.

“Jeez, you fell for a civilian? On your first mission?! You’re so fired,” Trent taunted.

“They won’t be able to fire me,” I said. “I’m going to quit.”

 

Epilogue

There I was, sitting at my favorite table at the blind-date haven Java the Hut, with my number seven favorite book of all time, The Great Gatsby.

But today, not even reading about Gatsby and Daisy and Nick out in West Egg could distract me from the dizzying déjà vu I was experiencing. Yesterday I came here and sat down and was struck with some horrible case of food poisoning that made me puke up my guts. I swear, I vomited so hard I actually blacked out for hours. I woke up in my bed, in my coziest flannel PJS—the ones I reserve for major sick days. I honestly don’t even remember how I got home!

So, like I said, I was reading The Great Gatsby and I noticed this guy. Okay, guy is not quite the word—Adonis? Mega-hunk? Perfect specimen of man?!

I was staring, there’s no question, and like the dork that I am, I didn’t avert my eyes fast enough, and he noticed me checking him out.

Then he smiled. At me. I looked behind me and everything, to make sure he wasn’t smiling at some leggy blonde behind me. No, the smile was for me.

And the smile was so dazzling it was like being hit with a Klieg light—I went all dizzy.

His eyes, I am not kidding, were aquamarine. No, sapphire-colored. I mean, whoa.

He had a bagel with cream cheese and an order of toast, as well as a hot tea.

I thought to myself, Who orders dry toast in a café? Then I thought, Actually, dry toast sounded pretty good. I should get some, too. It would be the perfect thing to settle my stomach.

Then he spoke, and ohmysweetgoodness, he had a British accent. He was almost too much, and yet there was something a little clumsy about him too. He didn’t seem as sure of himself as someone with his level of hotness would possess.

“Excuse me,” he said, “They had an extra order of toast up at the counter. Would you like it?”

“Toast sounds good,” I managed to murmur.

“And maybe a spot of peppermint tea?”

“Perfect,” I said. Was he some kind of psychic waiter? It seemed like he knew I’d spent the night emptying my guts into the john.

He set the tea and the toast down.

“My name’s Jack McMahon,” he told me. “Would you mind if I joined you?”

Our gazes locked onto each other. I somehow felt like I already knew him. And, what’s more important, I felt like I was going to know him for a long, long time.

There was suddenly no other word in the English language. At least not that I could ever remember learning.

There was only “yes.”


Follow the Traveling Story! Below is the post schedule:

Episode 1 – July 15 – Jessica Brody

Episode 2 – July 16 – Jessica Khoury

Episode 3 – July 17 –  Lish McBride

Episode 4 – July 18 – Gretchen McNeil

Episode 5 – July 19 – Emmy Laybourne

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