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Chapter 70: No Coincidences

clubhouse70

“Are you sure it’s here?” Zach asked.

“That’s what Richard said.”

It was close to 1a.m – the city quieting after its bustling day. At the wheel of Richard’s car, Zach accelerated toward the lowest basement carpark. He thought it strange the access to the eleventh floor was in such a remote location. But he’d experience enough to not rule out the possibility either.

Once parked in a random lot amidst a handful of cars, Zach exited and strolled over to the passenger seat. With blinking cameras watching their every move, the acting began. Zach ushered Jodie out of the car, before looking for the grey elevator. Richard said it was at the right corner of the floor, almost obscure. But there was no need to look for it, as it would open on its own. And, he was right.

Just as Zach glanced past the foyer of the main elevators, a wall parted at the far corner. Orange light streamed into the basement, and he pointed to it. “Over there.”

Jodie spotted it too and took the lead. In a long cloak and big, round shades, Jodie was unrecognizable. Contrary, Zach wasn’t in such a thick disguise. And perhaps that was why she needed his help – no one would do a double take even in his minimum makeover.

As they entered the elevator, the doors shut on their own. There were no buttons, not even an open or close, but there was a camera. Once the elevator began its ascent, it only took a few seconds to reach its designated floor. And when the doors reopened, a nurse strode over to greet them.

“Welcome. Kindly follow me for registration,” the nurse said.

“I don’t want to register,” Jodie replied.

“Rest assured, we only need a few details of which we will not store after your visitation.” The nurse smiled as she gestured at the main counter.

The eleventh floor lobby was alike a 5-star hotel. One wouldn’t be called naïve for thinking otherwise. A crystal chandelier hung above the waiting area, the floor glistened from daily polishing, nurses attended to every guest with tablets, and a bar stood offering free drinks.

As Jodie began to fill the simple form, Zach thought through their plan. Richard had handed him a pendrive capable of stealing information off a nurse’s tablet. All Zach needed to do was pluck it into an unattended device and the records of patients staying on the eleventh floor would be theirs. Being that all the names would be aliases, they’d have to look for the one that described Neal’s condition the most. Once they found the correct room, they must forward the information to Richard for him to send it to the detective. But before all that, they needed a distraction.

“Where’s the washroom?” Jodie asked, after submitting the paperwork.

“This way,” the nurse said.

The pair followed the nurse, turning down a corner from the foyer toward the washrooms. They weren’t far from the midnight crowd, but the distance would buy them enough time. Crossing gazes, they executed Plan A: a fake faint.

Jodie collapsed to the floor and began mumbling about feeling light-headed. The nurse propped Jodie against the wall, placed her tablet down, and pulled out a mini torchlight.

“Can you follow the light for me?” the nurse asked.

“Light?” Jodie questioned in convincing bewilderment.

Crouching beside them, Zach swiftly slid the tablet to his side. Then as discreetly as possibly, he plugged the pendrive and waited. It was the longest wait in the shortest amount of time. When Jodie pretended to lose consciousness, the nurse told Zach to stay while she went to get help. With the tablet out of the nurse’s sight, she forgot to take it with her. A minute later, the nurse returned with a gurney and a few others. Zach instantly unplugged the pendrive and stood out of their way. It was now up to him to decipher the records.

As Jodie was wheeled away, Zach excused himself to the washroom. Safely inside a cubicle, he transferred the data to his phone and began scanning through them. Both Zach and Jodie knew nothing about Neal’s condition. Aside from the fact Neal was supposedly brain dead, there were no other information to help him with his search. The records had more than one comatose patient, and thinking of the number of rooms he had to search without getting caught was perturbing.

“Why did I agree to this?” Zach muttered under his breath. “We could have all met at the school first to talk things out.”

In the midst of ‘what if’s, Zach spotted a similarity between the patient files: all the patients liaised with the same insurance company – Guinevere’s father’s company. Was that a coincidence? No, there were no coincidences in regards to Wilhelm Group. But, there was hope.

Zach could get Guinevere to check the company files to see which belonged to Neal Cortez. However, they were pressed for time. If Guinevere wasn’t home, the trip back together with the search time, would take too long. So the only other option was Matthias. Matthias was good with a keyboard, and if he knew what to look for, he could obtain the information quicker than Guinevere. Even though neither of them would answer his call, Zach had to try. But before he did, he needed to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2016 in Original Works

 

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Window | Pillow | Chocolate

windowpillowchocolate

It has been three years. Three years since we boarded the plane together. Three years since we fought over the window seat. Three years since we flipped a coin, just to see who should ask the air steward for an extra pillow. Three years since he proposed with a box of chocolate. And three years since we said goodbye.

As I curled up in the stiff economy class seat, I wondered what life would’ve been if he didn’t walk away. Would we be living in the cozy apartment we imagined? Would we have named our first child after his favourite actress? Would we be flying to Peru, right at this moment, for our great Machu Picchu adventure? Would we still be in love? If we didn’t say those words, would we still be together?

I can still recall the night of our tiff. It was a pleasant night. The day was filled with gentle showers, setting dusk in a cool breeze, fresh with the scent of rain in the air. It was the perfect night to cuddle with a hot cup of cocoa, as we shared the stories from our uneventful day. But that didn’t happen. We would still be together, if it actually did.

“So you’re coming to my mum’s birthday party, right?” I asked.

“Sorry love, I can’t make it this weekend. I’ve got work.”

“It’s the weekend. Why are you always working on the weekend?”

“Trust me, I don’t want to. It’s the boss. You know how he’s like.”

“You should quit.”

He turned to me, eyes wide with surprise. Then he chuckled.

“I’m serious,” I added.

“I can’t just quit. The wedding needs money.”

“You’re not the only one working.”

“But I want to be. I want to give you the best wedding ever.”

Resting his hands on my shoulders, he gave a gentle squeeze as he flashed his famous childish grin. I smiled. How could I not?

“Fine. But you still have to attend my mum’s party. She’s turning sixty,” I said.

“Only sixty. She’s still young.”

“You know how some of the older people are. Sixty is a big deal. And if I go without you, she’ll ask an unbearable amount of questions.”

“I can’t go. I really can’t.”

“Just tell your boss-”

“I can’t,” he interrupted.

Why did he interrupt? If he hadn’t done so, I might have given in. I might have let him skip the party. I might have held my tongue.

“Why are you so straight with your decisions?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why can’t you try to work things around? Saying you can’t when you’ve not tried-”

“How do you know I’ve not tried?”

“I know because I know you. And I know, for sure, you didn’t ask your boss if you could have the weekend off.”

“Are we seriously arguing about this right now? I’m tired. Let’s talk about it tomorrow, alright?”

“It’s always tomorrow with you.”

“Yes, because I don’t want to say something I’d regret. So let’s talk tomorrow.”

He gave me a quick peck on the forehead before stalking toward the door. Here’s my regret. I didn’t let him go. I made him stay at a time he needed to leave the most. I went after him, reached for his wrist, and pulled him back.

“No, let’s talk about this now. We will forget about this tomorrow-”

“And maybe that’s a good idea.”

“How is that a good idea? We’re getting married. This is something we need to discuss. How do you expect me to live with a man who will be absent every weekend?”

“It’s only this weekend. Why are you making such a big deal out of it?”

“It’s always ‘only this weekend’ with you. Fine. Go then. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

Like a child, I folded my arms and glared. And for that brief moment, I had hope. I was expectant. I thought he would stay and ask for forgiveness. That he would choose to work things out, instead of leaving. But I guess, he really was tired. And without another word, he walked out the front door never to return.

I have cried enough over what happened three years ago – stifling tears in the shower and hyperventilating by the sidewalks. But nothing I did brought him back. What could tears do to bring the dead to life? Was there a potion for resurrection? Would true love’s kiss work? When I became too tired to feel anymore, I forced myself to move on. I forced myself to disassociate the past from my present. Though unfortunately, the memories live on. I can recount every part of it as if it were a movie I’d watch one too many times. But even if I don’t tear up, it leaves a bitter aftertaste of regret.

As the air steward walked past with a pillow in hand, as the child clumsily unwrapped his chocolate bar, as I gazed at the cumuliform clouds, I wondered once more what life would have been. And then I concluded before the seatbelt sign blinked red: life would’ve been great. We would’ve been happy. We would’ve created wonderful memories. But life, unfortunately, goes on. And if I were to ever find love again, so should I.

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Window, pillow, and chocolate were words given by kara562. Firstly, let me apologise for writing this rather depressing piece. You see, I’ve been watching too many sad dramas recently that they’ve had an affect on me. So, when I saw those three words, the two things that came to mind were aeroplane and regret. I don’t why. Hence, this story. I do hope it was an engaging tale though.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. It’s fun. You don’t have to try so hard. And oh, it makes a great writing practice.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2016 in Original Works

 

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Chapter 69: Plus One

clubhouse69

Jodie held the memory card tight in a fist, as she tapped the up arrow of the hotel lift. She was nervous – more nervous than she needed to be. The atmosphere was unsettling and the air stifling in the marble-themed lobby. Staring straight at the silver doors, Jodie tried her best to ignore the hawking reporters. They’d seen her exchange with the receptionist. And they’d begun murmuring when the receptionist made a call. Fortunately, the hotel guards were diligent that night.

When the lift finally arrived, Jodie slipped in and jabbed furiously at the close button, avoiding the reporters’ gaze. It seems Richard had caused quite a stir. It wasn’t Guinevere or the Lees’ corruption they were after, it was the story behind Richard’s birth – society needed to get its priorities straight.

Upon the arrival ding of the thirtieth floor, Jodie heaved a sigh and turned right to suite #337. A second before her knuckles hit the wooden room door, it swung open.

“Were there a lot of-”

“Yes. Can I come in?” Jodie interrupted.

Richard gestured for her to enter, as he said, “It’s nice to see people care.”

“Oh yea, the youth of this country loves you.”

“Well, that’s no surprise. Have you seen me?”

Richard chuckled, but stopped himself abruptly when Jodie didn’t follow suit.

“I’ve seen you,” Jodie stated.

“Sorry. What do you need me to pass to the detectives?”

There was no hesitation when Jodie handed Richard the memory card.

“What’s in this?” Richard asked.

“Information about Neal’s whereabouts.”

“Oh.”

“It started with you, didn’t it?”

“Is that a ‘thank you’?”

“I guess.”

Jodie couldn’t blame Richard for keeping quiet. After all, his family was involved. And if it weren’t for him, she wouldn’t have discovered Neal being alive either. Though, if she wanted to be precise, Neal was merely existing. There was nothing lifelike being in a coma.

“You’re welcome. I’ll call a detective over. Would you like to stick around?”

“No. I’m afraid if I do, Neal would be gone.”

“What do you mean?”

From the recording, Jodie learned Neal was at the Wilhelm Group-owned hospital, kept under tight surveillance on the eleventh floor. The eleventh floor was a VIP floor for the famous, rich, and royal. Those who visited the floor could come and go without leaving any record of their visit. And after the news about the Lees, the Cortezs might decide to pull Neal out. Neal could disappear like the many others, as though he’d been dead for years.

“You won’t have access to the eleventh floor,” Richard stated. “They won’t give you access.”

“But-”

“You’re not high up enough. Sorry.”

Who was she kidding? Presidents were rumoured to visit the eleventh floor. Jodie grunted, realising she’d overlook that fact. The stress had officially gone to her head.

“But I have an idea. You can’t go alone though,” Richard added. “I can arrange for you to check in with a few fake claims.”

“Does the hospital even know who you are? No offense.”

“Yes. I’m high up enough. I’ve been there a few times.”

“Few?”

“Well, more than a few times. I’ve always wondered why the staff were always so nice to me. I guess it kind of makes sense now. They probably thought I’d be their new boss.”

“But the news is out. You’re not their new boss. You’re not even related to their new boss.”

“Yes, but I can still pull some strings. Pay some people off. Money makes the world go round, Jodie. I thought you knew that.”

“Thanks for the reminder.”

“So, you up for the plan?”

“You have the money?”

“Plenty. The Lees thought they could pay me for my silence. Hah!”

“Then yes, I’m for the plan. And… thank you.”

“Anytime,” Richard said with a smirk. But just as he reached for his phone, he turned and asked, “Who’s going with you?”

“Who’s…”

“Who’s going with you? I’m going to tell them you’re my famous friend who doesn’t want any publicity on your secret illness. And if you’re famous, you can’t go alone. You need at least somebody to go with you.”

What Richard said made sense. She was going to put on a show, and all shows worked better with dialogue. Unfortunately, Jodie didn’t know anyone that could help her pull off the stunt. She didn’t want to involve anyone personal, and her options were limited if not none.

“How about Zach?” Richard suggested.

“Are you serious?”

“I don’t know about his acting skills, but his face isn’t all over the media. For the most part, he’s a nobody.”

“Well.”

“He’ll do anything for you. I thought that was obvious.”

Jodie narrowed her eyes and Richard laughed.

“You didn’t know?” Richard asked, eyes wide in fake surprise.

Jodie knew – she’d picked up on the hints. But as far as she was concerned, it wasn’t something worth responding to.

“So is he going to be your plus one or not? The clock is ticking. Neal might be gone forever.”

Neal might’ve been gone already, but she wasn’t going to assume the worst. Jodie needed to make sure he was there. She needed to keep him there, at least until the detectives arrive. Still, she didn’t like the thought of using Zach even if she knew he’d help. Jodie had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2016 in Original Works

 

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Taking A (Mental) Break + Giveaway Teaser

takingabreak

I rarely skip a post unless I’m on holiday. Today, however, is going to be one of those days where I skip a post because I want to. And… I sincerely apologise for the lack of a fictional escape this week.

Honestly, I’m low on creativity at this moment. The newest chapter for The Clubhouse is supposed to be out today, but I haven’t even written it yet. Why? Because I don’t know what to write. This sometimes happens, and I’ve managed to push through it before, but not this week. I’ve not gotten enough rest for the past few days and I’m just tired all the time. To try and squeeze a story out of me would result in horrible writing. So if you’re following The Clubhouse and looking forward to the next chapter, please forgive me. You’ll have to wait until next week.

Since I’m being honest, I might as well say that the past month has been very mentally draining for me. As you might have read, I’ve been campaigning heavily for The Slave Prince. This is my chance to get another book on bookshelves, and I’m really going for it! But with the recent emergence of a new book in the competition, that left me in the dust, I was forced to up my game.

HERE is the current standings of the contest, if you’re curious. The Slave Prince has had to fight to stay in the Top 3 since Sparked came into the picture. Sparked shot straight to #1 in less than a day and you have no idea how intimidating that is. I quickly learned how small I am, compared to authors with such huge influence. So in my attempts to face this giant, I’ve been networking like crazy. And thankfully, through my approaches, I’ve managed to get the support of 4 creative people. These people are willing to give out their creative works to those who pre-order The Slave Prince!

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Tomorrow’s Giveaway!

I won’t be able to update you on all the giveaways on this blog, as I don’t want my blog posts to spam you daily. But if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or the book page itself, you’ll see what’s going to be raffled. There will be novels to give away, cash vouchers, video games, and even an album. No kidding. The sooner you pre-order The Slave Prince, the higher your chances are at taking home something extra – and believe me when I say, everybody will win at least one giveaway. For tomorrow itself, I’ll be announcing a novel giveaway. It’s not my own, but a fellow Inkshares author’s book. More details will be on social media.

Well… that’s all for today’s post. Please accept my apologies and please pre-order a copy of The Slave Prince. Hopefully, when I see you next time, I’ll have something substantial to offer. But until then, have a great week!

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2016 in Others

 

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Define ‘The Slave Prince’

definetsp

‘State or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.’
– Result from typing ‘define’ in the Google search bar.

What is The Slave Prince? What is it about?

Imagine yourself as a child. You’re seating in the living room with your parents, and they’re talking about transferring you to a private school. From time-to-time, your mother leans over and nags about your grades. Your father, well, he’s giving you this ‘don’t worry kiddo, I’ve got your back’ look. Everything is normal.

This is your house. The dog at your feet is yours, and his name is Sam. Bob the cat is also yours. You named him Bob because he’s yours. Your brother, who’s upstairs playing an MMO, thinks Bob is a stupid name. But you don’t care, because Bob is yours.

This is your life. This is what you know. This is all you know.

Everything about this life shapes who you are. And then one day, you wake up and realise you are not you.

The couple downstairs, arguing about a dinner party, are complete strangers. The boy in the bedroom next door isn’t your brother. Sam is not your dog. You didn’t name Bob, Bob. And what you believe to be your true identity… isn’t true at all.

You don’t know who you are, and it has nothing to do with your memory. You know these people, you know the world you live in, you just don’t know… you.

This is what The Slave Prince is really about. Yes, there’s magic and adventure. But there’s also a prince who has lost himself. And in this journey of self-rediscovery, he learns that it isn’t just about choosing a side. It’s about… something else altogether.
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It has been a month since I’ve entered The Slave Prince into the Geek & Sundry Fantasy Contest. Since then, The Slave Prince has nestled in the #2 spot. And to date, it has 109 readers with 113 pre-orders. Yes, the stats are good. Being #2 in the Top 3 is good. It’s safe… but only for now.

You see, The Slave Prince needs to be in the Top 3 on November 1st to win a full publishing deal. That means there are 2 more months to go before the contest ends. And we all know, anything can happen in those 2 months.

So, if I could ask… would you, dear reader, who have read my works and know what I can bring to the table, consider pre-ordering a copy of The Slave Prince? You’ve read more of my stories than many others who’ve ordered my book. You’ve left comments and likes. You’ve sent me emails. And I’ve grown to believe that you believe in me.

There is no doubt I cannot go on this journey alone. And with your support, I can succeed. With your support I can dare to dream big. And dreaming big isn’t just placing Top 3, it is excelling. So, what do you say? Do I have your support? Just think of it as treating your favourite blogger lunch😛 Your pre-order, whether eBook or paperback, will go a long way. And for it, I will be forever grateful.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2016 in Original Works

 

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Chapter 68: Rumour Has It

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He’d never been this bored in his life. If only he could slip away, he would. All for the sake of show, he sat in the corner attempting to look like he cared. Unfortunately, he was failing at it – acting wasn’t his forte. When the detectives finally called for a break, Richard heaved a sigh and excused himself. He lied about needing to use the washroom, just like Gabriel did ten minutes before him, and exited to the lounge on the second floor.

Richard thought the day wouldn’t get anymore interesting, especially after the Skypeak debacle. But he was wrong. While he filled himself a coned-paper cup of water, the nearby lift dinged. And out from the lift came Matthias and Guinevere.

“What are-”

“Matthias! My man!” Gabriel interrupted.

Richard wouldn’t have known of Gabriel’s presence if not for his false enthusiasm.

“Had a good chit-chat with Guinevere?” Gabriel asked.

“Not that it’s any of your business,” Guinevere snapped.

“I have good ears.”

“I’m sure you do.” Then turning to Richard, Guinevere asked, “Can we talk?”

When Richard didn’t respond, Guinevere walked over and looped her arm around his elbow. She locked him in tightly and pulled him down a hallway.

“What are you doing here?” Richard asked.

“I’m here to save Wayne.”

It was unintentional, but he chuckled.

“I have a plan. A good one. But I need your help,” Guinevere added.

“I don’t like the sound of that. Is that why Matthias is here too?”

“To be honest, it’s Matthias’ plan.”

“Oh, sounds like it’s going to be wonderful.”

“It isn’t. But it’ll work.”

“Reliable as he always is, my good friend Matty.”

Guinevere wasted no time and went straight to what she and Matthias had decided on. The few seconds after she was done, Richard thought she was joking. But when she stared him down, waiting for his response, he knew she was serious.

Repeating the plan in his head, Richard was surprised Guinevere was actually for it. He had nothing to lose, but she did. If she was willing to put her life on the line, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to sacrifice his millionaire lifestyle. After all, it was a very fickle one.

“Alright. I’ll tell the truth,” Richard said.

“You will?” Guinevere’s eyes grew wide, not so much in surprise but fear.

“Matthias is a good lawyer,” Richard assured.

“I know. Shall we then?”

“Ladies first.”

Telling the truth, on that very night, was one of the easiest decisions Richard had ever made. The thought of losing his title and his money was scary, but starting anew was all the more possible if he cut the Lees out of his life. No more parties, no more cars, and no more lazing around, didn’t sound too bad in the light of freedom.

When Richard finally returned to his hotel room, after three hours of confession, three minutes of verbal threats from his father, and three seconds of his mother’s hateful glare, he knew he did the right thing. And for the first time in a long time, he slept without a worry in the world.

The following day, Richard awoke at the cue of his unfed stomach. As he booted up his phone, a stream of messages and missed-call notifications sent his phone buzzing for a good five minutes. Most came from his family, so-called friends, and news outlets. Word had somehow gone out, even before the police could confirm anything. Buried in the pile of information fishing, there was also a message from both Jodie and Zach.

As Richard was about to give Jodie a call, Zach’s caller ID appeared on the screen.

“Good afternoon, Zach,” Richard answered.

“Thank you for picking up. I can’t reach Matthias or Guinevere, and Jodie knows nothing either.”

“Well, to be honest, I don’t know much.”

“I read the news. Did you really tell them everything?”

“Yup. Gave them DNA samples too.”

“So this is it, then.”

“I guess so. You’re in the clear. Go out and celebrate, man.”

“I… I’m not sure about that.”

“They have nothing on you. Unless Wilhelm Group starts making things up, you’re safe.”

“That’s comforting.”

“They wouldn’t have the time.”

“Right. Should we all meet tonight? At the school?”

“You can ask the rest.”

“How about you?”

Richard wondered how much word had gotten out, and if it was even wise to leave the hotel room. A horde of reporters was probably waiting in the lobby as they spoke.

“I’ll get back to you.”

“Alright. By the way, you might want to Google yourself.”

“That should be fun.”

After he ended the call, Richard did as Zach suggested. He looked himself up and found hundreds of gossip sites covering the same news over and over again. Some added their own extreme speculations, while others only used his name as click-bait. But as much as they were ruining his reputation, all he did was laugh.

By the time he was done reading, his stomach had given up growling. Deciding it was time to respond to some of the messages, he recalled wanting to give Jodie a call. And as though the universe was playing match-up, Jodie sent a message a second before he hit dial.

‘Let’s meet tonight. I’ll come over.’

If anyone read the conspicuous message, the Lee scandal would be long forgotten.

‘I need your help to pass some information to the detectives,’ another message popped in.

Richard thought about asking what it was about, but then decided it might be better to hear it from her in person. Still, he contemplated. Zach’s need for a secret meeting to put everyone on the same page felt important. Which should he agree to? Richard had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2016 in Original Works

 

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Meerkat | Star | Days

meerkatstardays

“Dear Morning Star, I am the Meerkat of the South Desert. Would you grant me one wish, as you’ve granted those who’ve laid their eyes on you? I do not want to ask for much, as I am but a lowly being, but this is one request I must make. For just three days, let me be-”

There is power in prayer.

Disturbed by my cousin’s restless sleep, I was awakened an hour short of dawn. As I tried to find a comfortable spot away from him, to catch a few more minutes of shut-eye, I caught a glimpse of a twinkling star. It was unlike any other. Streaks of pale orange had formed across the sky, washing away the common twinkles of the night. But the Morning Star, the one rumoured by many to be a God, pierced through the glow and radiated in its own sparkle. To even see it in one’s lifetime was considered a miracle. And I saw it.

Scurrying outside for a better look, I only took a couple of seconds to admire its beauty. Then shutting my eyes, I said my prayer. It was an odd prayer, I know. I could only hope the Morning Star would hear my plea and grant me my wish. When I finally opened my eyes, after an extra minute of self-doubt, the Morning Star was gone. But despite it leaving, without even twinkling goodbye, I had hope. That very same night, I took my place beside my cousin, ready for an adventure.

Morning came quickly in a dreamless sleep. When I awoke, a smile crept up my face. My prayer was answered. My wish had come true. I had three days to live as a lion – the almighty king of the South Desert. My claws were sharp and ready for a hunt, my nose picked up the scent of breakfast, and my mane blown by the wind was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had. I had no regrets. I was going to enjoy three days basking in a lion’s fearless glory. But then, my worst nightmare took form.

“What are you doing?” she asked. I don’t know how I understood her – her roar. I just did. “You have a fight today. Get up and eat your share of the catch.”

Afraid to say the wrong words, I followed after her to the antelope lying motionless on the warm sand. None of the lions in our pride had taken a bite, not even the alpha; whichever the alpha is.

“Eat and make us proud,” she said.

I hesitated. I’d never tasted raw flesh before, and the idea of consuming it made my stomach turn. Still, all eyes were on me. Gathering the courage of what a lion should have, I took my first and last bite, before retreating.

“Eat more,” she ordered, so firmly I would’ve ran for my life in my true identity.

“I’m done,” I said – a thought manifested as a growl.

“Then you must go,” she replied.

Go where, I didn’t know. I’ve learned about lions, so I could only guess what that day was. And even if my guess was correct, where was the other pride resting? How strong was its alpha? Could I beat him? I may look like a lion, but I was not a real lion. Barely an hour after thanking the Morning Star for granting my wish, I was already praying to go back to yesterday.

“I can’t go.” My thoughts became my words.

The lioness tilted her head and narrowed her gaze. She looked confused, as though I’d spoken in a foreign tongue. Did I?

“Are you afraid?” she asked.

“Yes.”

Immediately, she snapped her jaws and my paws instinctively shuffled backward.

“What nonsense is this? Go!” she roared. “I didn’t raise you to be a coward. Go!”

A coward. Being a lion didn’t make me less of a coward, it seems.

“I can’t.”

“Then that is your problem.”

The lioness turned away and gathered her curious cubs. When she did, the pride followed suit. They feasted on the antelope, ignoring me as I watched them. Once they were done, they left.

I was too much of a coward to follow after them. I was afraid the males would attack me if I did. So I planted myself until night arrived. My hope was to wait for the Morning Star to petition my return. That was all I could do as a coward. One that is also quick to give up. When the Morning Star finally made its first twinkle, it graciously answered my prayer.

Today, I’m a meerkat – the small, beady-eyed, creature that sleeps in a hole. I am me again. Happily me. I know there’s something to learn from my day as a lion. But unfortunately, my mind cannot accept the revelation of my journey. I always thought the bigger you are, the more courage you had. Am I wrong? The thought of it otherwise baffles me. Maybe next time, when I happen to gaze upon the Morning Star again, I will say a better prayer. I will ask to be a man. After all, they’re bigger, and without a doubt, braver.

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Meerkat, star, and days were words given by thinkingoverload. When I first started writing this piece, I had no idea what the ending would be. And usually, that’s not something I practice. I like to know where the story would go before hitting the keyboard. Strangely, I surprised myself today… because hey, it didn’t turn out so bad. That’s what impromptu writing can do.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. Just go ahead and write away. Don’t think or be afraid to sway. Because who knows… you’ll create a good story today.

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3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Original Works

 

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