Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Past Due: Chapter Two, Jester's Canyon

I'm sharing chapter two of our current Progressive Story Project collaboration. This project features a piece of fiction written by a group of bloggers who do not discuss the story with each other, just continue to build on the contributions of the last writers. In the end, we end up with one cohesive story, usually told in about four chapters.

Progressive Story Project. one story written by multiple bloggers | Developed by and presented on www.BakingInATornado.com | #fiction #MyGraphics

As this is chapter two, be sure to read chapter one before moving on to today's bloggers' contributions. 
Chapter one: Five Days

Credit for the writing of each section is above and to the far right, along with a link to their blogs, each one well worth visiting.

Past Due, a Progressive Story Project, one piece of fiction written collaboratively by 10 bloggers. | Graphic designed by and property of, and story presented by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #Fiction

Past Due
Chapter Two: Jester's Canyon

Diane of On the Border

Emily's heart began to pound. She sat up, her hand still shading her eyes. "Betty James?" She got to her feet. "Betty James?" she said again.

The woman nodded, her eyes on Emily's face. "Do you remember me?" she whispered. She glanced at Emily's companions, then leaned forward. "That night . . ."

Emily drew a sharp breath. Suddenly she knew why Betty's name had sounded so familiar.

In a heartbeat, she was standing once more on Jester's Curve . . .

The red lights of Amy Westerland's car were shining weakly up at her and her three companions as the four of them huddled together in the pouring rain, peering over the cliff into Jester's Canyon.

Sue linked arms with Eddie and giggled rather hysterically. "I guess we won then?"

A noise from the cliff face. Emily stared at the muddied girl who pulled herself up over the edge. Amy's friend, Betty James. Emily and Josh rushed to help her to her feet. "We saw you go over!" Emily said. "I'm so glad you're all right!"

"Amy," Betty gasped out. "Amy's still down there." Shadowed, haunted eyes sought, first Emily, then Josh. "I think she's dead. The steering wheel . . ." The girl shuddered and nearly collapsed. "We have to do something!"

At that moment the cliff edge seemed to disintegrate. The five of them leaped back as a wall of mud broke away. It slid down the sleep slope, covering the smashed car and obliterating the red lights.

"What can we do?" Sue demanded shrilly. "If she's dead . . ."

Emily spun to look at her fried. "What if she isn't?" She turned again to stare at the spot where Amy's lights had been visible. "Moments have made the difference in the past." She started forward.

Josh put a hand on her shoulder. "It's too dangerous, Em," he said quietly. He looked up at the dark, heavy clouds over them. "You might get caught in the next landslide."

"I don't care! I . . ." This time, both Josh and Sue hld her back.

Sue let out that strange giggle again. "Don't waste your time, Em." She looked over the cliff. "Amy got what she deserved."

Emily collapsed against Josh and let the tears flow. "I never meant for this to happen," she gasped out. "It was just a harmless little prank. To kick off the graduation celebrations. You know, the five-day countdown."

Emily's mind was racing. What should she do? Was there a point in playing dumb? What could Betty possibly want? This happened many, many years ago, couldn't they just let the past be the past? What if she could still be reported and charged?

"I - I don't know anybody by that name, Betty Jones you said? You must have me confused."

The pink lady looked determined though. "betty James, and I'm sure that you know exactly who I am. Come on, let's take a walk."

"B-but, I'm here with my friend, Liz."

Betty stretched out her hand, smiled and said "coe on, I won't bite, I'll have you back here in no time."

Reluctantly Emily followed Betty who was tottering amazingly fast in her pink pumps. "Where are you taking me, I have to be back at home and make dinner. My son Andrew is coming over with the kids."

As they left the park through the West Gate, they crossed the street, and after a block they turned into an alley and arrived at an ivy-clad house that looked abandoned. Mysterious at the very least.

Betty used the door knocker three times.

Soon enough the door slowly squeaked open.

"Come on in," Eddie said. "We've been waiting."

Jenniy of Climaxed

She followed Betty inside the house and looked around. Everyone who had received the note was present.

Eddie, Josh, Sue, Betty, and herself.

Eddie took a seat in the small living room in a blue plush armchair and beckoned for the two women to take a seat in the folded chairs set up to accommodate more guests. Sue was in a matching armchair across the coffee table from Eddie, and Josh had taken a folding chair as well.

She was shaking as she looked around. It was all very normal and mundane despite this being very abnormal circumstances. The carpet and walls were a similar beige color. No photos. No art. Just a small tv set on a white Ikea stand and a few coasters on the table. She couldn't even tell whose house it was if it was anyone's. The outside didn't make it seem like it was some kind of great investment.


She realized they'd been talking while she dissociated, and snapped back to reality.

"I'm sorry. What all was said? This is . . . this is all terrifying and weird to me."

They all looked at her in slight disgust, but it was Eddie who finally grumbled, "What do you think it is for us, princess? Of course you're still a goody two shoes who thinks she's the only one with problems."

"EDDIE! Enough. Enough. That's not going to help." Betty reached over and squeezed her hand and then continued. "We all know what this is about. Now what do we do about it? Who did you all tell about how Amy's car got down in Jester's Canyon? And why are they coming for us now?"

Each of them in turn answered "no one."

Emily certainly had never said a word, not to anyone ever. Not her ex, not her brother, and when she hooked up with Josh that summer, they hadn't discussed it once. After a few weeks of being completely overcome with guilt and coming close to turning herself into the cops right afterwards, she buried it. She spent all of her adult life pretending as much as possible that it had never happened.

So who else possibly could have witnessed what happened that night besides Amy? As far as any of them knew, she had died in her car in the bottom of Jester's Canyon while everyone in this tiny white bread living room ran home and lied about where they had been.

Emily knew lying and secret keeping was not the way to live her life. She also knew she was terrible at both, and that is why she had spent much of the first month after that fateful night at Jester's Canyon telling herself she needed to go to the cops, and unburden her heart. She had managed to talk herself out of it each time, and eventually had been able to pretend that night never happened. Eventually, as the memory faded, and life continued on, she had managed to forget about that night, and she had moved on, living each passing year as if that night had never happened.

Now here she was, in a strange house surrounded by the very people she had spent years forgetting. As she looked around at each face, taking them each in, she was transported back to that fateful night, decades before, right before graduation and the start of her life. The same night when Amy's life had ended. The same night they all chose to keep quiet, and protect themselves from any possible consequences.

Over the years, anytime guilt had tried to overcome her, Emily had reminded herself that Amy would have done the same exact thing. No way she would have gotten herself in trouble and risked ruining her future. Her bright future. She had been on her way to Washington D.C. after graduation, and she was destined for a career in one of the top crime labs in the country. She was on her way to achieving every dream she had ever had, including marrying her childhood sweetheart, Emily's cousin Dyson. Emily had grown up in a close-knit family, and her cousins were like siblings to her.

That was why it had hurt her so much to watch Dyson, in the weeks following that night at Jester's Canyon, come apart at the seams as Amy's disappearance stretched on. He had eventually moved to Washington, as he and Amy had planned, and immersed himself into politics and the CIA, and eventually completely growing apart from his family. They rarely saw him anymore, and nobody had any real idea of what he had been up to. He had never seemed to fully recover from losing Amy. Why he was so upset by the loss of her, Emily would never really understand. Amy had been difficult and selfish. All the plans she and Dyson made were in benefit of Amy's wants and hopes and dreams. Dyson just sort of catered his choices to whatever would make Amy happy.

That is how it had always been. If Amy was happy, that was all that mattered, and it was something that most of her family and friends had struggled to accept, but not Dyson. He had always been able to make his happiness reliant on Amy's happiness, and he always seemed to live for her benefit. It was a weird, symbiotic existence, that had intrigued Em over the years, and anytime she had been able to get an idea from Dyson, about what he wanted in life, it never seemed to add up to the plans he made with Amy. The more time had passed, the more Emily began to think of Amy as a parasite, who was feeding off her cousin. That may have been why she had been able to keep quiet, after that night in the Canyon. She knew, if nothing else, Dyson was finally free.

She was not convinced he had ever embraced the freedom from Amy. He always seemed stuck in the past, even though he had moved on and distanced himself from their family and their hometown. Now here she was, surrounded by the memories of that night, and the moment her cousin's future had been rewritten. The night she finally had a secret of her own.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Read on to chapter three The Past is Present ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And before you go, here's today's recipe:

Red Curry Chicken and Snap Peas comes together in just one pan. Chicken and vegetables are simmered in an enhanced red curry sauce. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Red Curry Chicken and Snap Peas
Red Curry Chicken and Snap Peas comes together in just one pan. Chicken and vegetables are simmered in an enhanced red curry sauce. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

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

Red Curry Chicken and Snap Peas        

Printable Recipe

1 TBSP vegetable oil
1/2 red pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
6 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 green onions, cut into approximately 3 inch pieces
1 cup snap peas, rinsed and dried 
1 carrot, shaved
1 1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips (cut the longer ones in half)
salt, pepper, garlic powder
1 bottle (about 13 oz) Thai Red Curry Sauce
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes 
1 tsp lime juice

*Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the red pepper, mushrooms, green onions, snap peas, carrot, ginger and garlic. Cook until the vegetables just start to soften, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pan.
*Sprinkle the chicken strips with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add to the same skillet and cook, stirring now and then, until the chicken is cooked through. Drain.
*Add the sauce and red pepper flakes to the skillet with the chicken, mix in the cooked vegetables.
*Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and  allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Drizzle with the lime juice.
*OPT: Serve over rice with lime wedges.



  1. Oh, this is just too much fun! I LOVE it!!!

  2. Someone always knows. Can't wait to find out who.

  3. Replies
    1. So glad you're enjoying the story. Stop by in a few days for chapter three.

  4. You’re talking green beans, right.

    1. In the recipe? I use sugar snap peas, they're a little sweeter. They're sort of a cross between snow peas and garden peas.

    2. Glad to know, I had never heard green beans called snap peas and that is what they looked like, snapped green beans.

  5. Red hot recipe. As for the story, it always has fascinated me how several authors can start with almost nothing and progress into something you just want to keep reading. This one has hooked me. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com


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