Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Storm Past. Chapter One: Darkening Skies

Back in December of 2014 I decided that I wanted to write a fictional holiday story. And just for fun I thought I'd drag some friends along for the ride. I had this idea of a progressive story, each person adding a paragraph and then passing it on to the next writer. Everyone would make an impact on but no one would control the story.

Progressive Story Project | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I wasn't sure it would work. Not only did I not know if 3 or 4 bloggers would agree to gift me a story segment but even if they did, would it come together as a cohesive story? After all, everyone I know has a different style, a unique voice.

Sixteen bloggers jumped aboard. Sixteen! And the result was simply amazing, a three part holiday story of which I am exceedingly proud.

Writers and readers alike expressed interest in keeping this progressive storytelling project alive. Collectively we, the writers, decided to leave our original story as A Holiday Story and pick that one up again in December. Watch for it.

 Today we're starting a new Progressive Story Project, completely different from the previous one. Many of the same writers have joined in again as well as new friends taking on this challenge. As I did last time, I've credited the author of each segment and linked to their blogs. I hope you'll visit them all. Guaranteed you won't be sorry.

I'm honored to share chapter one of our newest collaboration, Storm Past:

Storm Past, a Progressive Story Project | www.bakinginatornado.com | #story #fiction

Chapter One: Darkening Skies  

Karen of Baking In A Tornado

When it happened, she took it as a sign. It wasn't a conscious thought, she didn't take the time to consider it and decide it was an omen, she more felt it. In that moment.

Logically, it was just a tree falling in the woods behind her home on a stormy summer night. First with a crack, then the slow creaking of its motion, followed by the inevitable conclusion, a crash as it hit the ground.

"Ominous". That word kept going through her mind. She could not get it to stop. She literally heard it in her head, over and over again in a constant loop. If it didn't end soon she would lose her mind. Unless she already had.

 Marlee was rarely ever scared being home alone but tonight was different. She just felt scared. She felt the ominous fear long before the storm had even started. At six feet three inches tall with a lean, muscular body, she could handle nearly anything that came her way. For some reason she knew tonight would be the night her limits were tested.

She cautiously peeked out the large breakfast nook window that looked straight into the woods behind her house. She could not see much. Most of the moon's light was being blocked by storm clouds. She waited while her eyes adjusted to the darkness and then began to carefully scan her yard and the woods that bordered it.

Just when her heartbeat was beginning to slow and her muscles began to relax, she saw him. Her heart sank and an uncontrolled scream escaped from her throat. It was really happening. This was it. This really was the night her limits would be tested.

A streak of lightning lit the sky, his silhouette briefly highlighted in the sudden brightness. In the time it took her eyes to adjust from the flash, Marlee lost sight of the man. She scanned the edge of the forest again but saw and heard nothing as the clouds broke open, unleashing a torrent of rain, obscuring any sign the figure had been there.

Her mind raced in time with her heart. It couldn't be, she thought. He was dead. She had seen his body, laid out on the carpet and cold in the morgue; the man of her dreams who'd become a nightmare. Subconsciously she rubbed the scar, long and puckered where he had dragged the sharpened edge of his field knife across her throat in a final attempt to end her life.

Jeffrey. His name came unbidden, a whisper on the wind, in her ear.

 Marlee tried to calm herself. She walked toward the back door and made sure it was locked. Her eyes scanned the room for anything she could use as a weapon to protect herself. Then she felt her cell phone vibrate in her pocket. She pulled it out and glanced nervously at the screen. It was just a number and a message. She opened the message. "I am here, you are mine." She took a sharp intake of air. Jeffrey . . . it had to be.

She looked up and swore she saw someone run through the yard. Should she dial 911? Should she call Sheriff Young? As her eyes darted from the door to the window, lightning flashed, thunder crashed and she screamed. Was that thunder or was it the side window? She ran through the room and down the hall just as the power went out.

Marlee screamed as the house went dark and she heard that laugh, that evil laugh that echoed in her head from years ago.

She stumbled blindly back towards the back door her hands frantically scrabbling for the key, only to find an empty space. She remembered that the key was where it always was, on the mantle above the fireplace where she could keep a watchful eye on it through the long nights.

She leaned her head on the cold rough surface of the wood and slowly sank to the floor, sobbing as the heavy careful footsteps approached her.

"Marlee," she heard him whisper. "Marlee, Marlee, I'm here . . . "

As his hand touched her shoulder a long primal moan tore through her.

NOOOOO . . . 

His arms tightened around her body pulling her close.

"Marlee, Marlee, Maria, I'm here, it's ok . . . "

She jerked into wakefulness drenched in sweat, her skin cold and clammy, her breath shallow and jerky as she desperately tried to suck in enough oxygen to kick start her brain. Her eyes slowly focused on his face.

Gentle, concerned and so full of love.

"What is it Maria, what is it that's haunting you?"

A slight breeze from the open window fanned the curtain allowing a brilliant shaft of sunlight to stream across the room illuminating his face as his eyes searched hers for answers.

But that was another life and one that she never wanted to touch this one she shared with him.

Jeffrey wasn't the only one who had died that night, together they had killed Marlee too.

Sitting up, Maria smoothed her hair back and tried to smile at him, but it came out as a grimace.  A thousand times she had wanted to tell him that the woman he was married to wasn't who she seemed, that he had in fact married the face of true evil, but the words never came out. She couldn't stand the thought of hurting him, especially now when he looked so worried.

"It's alright honey; I just had a bad dream."

"Are you sure? You were really throwing yourself around there."

"Honestly I'm fine" she said in the most reassuring tone she could muster.

"Who is Jeffery?" He asked in a small voice.

The name sent a jolt of electricity through her spine. She struggled to speak but the words escaped her.

"You were calling his name while you were asleep" he continued.

How could she answer him? It wasn't as easy as saying "He's just the man I murdered in cold blood before I knew you. Back when the world was a different place and I was still Marlee."

Her hand instinctively went to the scar on her throat and she replied "I don't know anyone called Jeffrey."

With those words she stood up and walked to the bathroom to wash off the sweat that had drenched her in her nightmares.

~~ Keep reading. Storm Past, chapter two: Where There's Smoke ~~

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics


  1. ACKKK how can you stop there?! Karen!
    Awesome job ladies, now with baited breath I wait for the next installment...oy
    Spatulas On Parade

    1. LOL, the story is 4200 words with 3 more people still to write, I kinda had to stop somewhere. Can't wait to present chapter two next week!

  2. Wow, Terrific! What a fun idea. I did read a book with the same premise by famous authors.

  3. I am so excited to be a part of this one! Even though I had read that first part it still had that same kick as the first time I read it! I already can't wait until next Tuesday!

    1. I know. I'm so lucky to have such a talented group of friends.

  4. Nice!!!!!!! I cannot wait to read more!!!!!!

  5. Hey I like this it has come together well I a looking forward to the next installment

    1. Thanks, Jo-Anne. I'm so proud of how it's turning out.

  6. Wow. Even though I've read this part before, and I wrote the next paragraph, I am still kind of scared. This is SOME story!!

    Same time next week for part 2?

    1. I know, I've read the whole story about 20 times and love it. So . . . see you next week. Same time, same place.

  7. Love it Karen, it could (and probably will) go anywhere! Really happy to be a part of this x

    1. Yes, that's what I love about this project, just seeing where everyone takes it.

  8. HOLY SHIT...that was awesome...I need more...can't wait for more.

  9. This is such a great idea, Karen. It's wonderful to see how the story progresses through new each new author. See you a few weeks down the road? <3

    1. Thank you so much for agreeing to add your voice. XO

  10. Yow! This is fantastic! Really fun to read! Can't wait for the next instalment.
    (P.S. Count me in for December's story!)

    1. Next installment is coming up in a few days. And I've added you to the list for A Holiday Story. You'll hear from me when it makes the rounds!

  11. Wooo! Plot twist! Love it so far. Can't wait to keep reading. We did good, y'all!


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