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    Katya Dee
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The First Lock - 3. Chapter 3

- III -

 

Mandy Ray did not have a good day, not by any means. It started out just like another Wednesday in the middle of a surprisingly mild February – with a sweet chirping of her “Sounds of Nature” alarm clock at 6:30 in the morning. Mandy didn’t mind getting up early. She always considered herself to be one of them “early birds” and she was proud of it. She was not the kind of person to bitch and moan at the first sound of the alarm. In fact, she enjoyed it. Mornings always felt peaceful to her. Probably because she could have the entire house to herself when she welcomed a new day.

Her husband would inevitably be snoozing peacefully, completely ignoring sweet “chirp-chirp” of Mandy’s alarm clock; both twins were buried under their pillows and blankets; and even Rusty the Dog would be twitching his legs rhythmically in his sleep while he was curled up on the couch, chasing some critter in his wild animal’s dreams. Therefore, all things considered, Mandy had the house all to herself, even though it would be only for an hour before all the inhabitants would be awake. Mandy liked that arrangement. She liked to welcome a new day with a smile on her face and peace in her heart.

Today, however, did not go according to Mandy’s so-used-to-by-now plan. The alarm went off, nice and proper, at 6:30 exactly, and Mandy started to feel a light kiss of a smile on her mouth, thinking that now she’d be sliding out of bed, making her quiet way into the kitchen, making coffee, and enjoying the view outside, when all of a sudden, her husband (the man could sleep through the fire alarm screaming bloody murder, for crying out loud!) opened his eyes and said in a very annoyed voice:

“For the love of God, Mandy! Turn the bloody thing off!”

Mandy was so startled that she dropped her silky robe she was about to put on. She quickly silenced the alarm and Nate’s eyes immediately closed and he was back into his peacefully-snoozing oblivion. Mandy bent down to pick up her robe (the black silky one from Victoria’s Secret catalogue, her favorite) and somehow, she managed to catch one of her long, carefully manicured fingernails on one of the buttons. Mandy hated the feeling of something being stuck underneath her fingernails, so she drew her hand back rather hastily. As a result, she ended up ripping off the button and putting a decent size crack into the said fingernail (which happened to be her pinkie). She tutted with quiet annoyance, picked up the button, grabbed the manicure kit from the top of her dresser, and walked out of the bedroom, thinking that maybe it wasn't too bad. Nothing a little filing couldn't fix, she thought while making her way into the kitchen where the espresso maker was eagerly waiting for her.

Well, when she could see the fingernail much better underneath the light of the sunshine pouring into the kitchen through the French window, she almost swore out loud – a thing she hasn’t done in a while. The fingernail was beyond filing help. The button (“That goddamn stupid piece of crap button!”) dealt a lot more damage that she thought. The fingernail would have to be trimmed, can you believe that? Of course, if the pinkie fingernail had to be clipped, all of the other ones had to follow the same suit. It’s not like Mandy would have different length fingernails! That was preposterous!

She tutted again, this time with more frustration, and got to work. By the time she was done with her fingernails (which was not an easy task, by the way!), she realized that she completely forgot about the espresso maker. She threw a quick glance at the clock and moaned quietly when she saw it was 7:15 already. It was time to wake up the twins, so she could drive them to school. She always drove them to school; she didn’t trust the school bus. We all know that school bus drivers are not to be trusted under any circumstances. If they weren’t stoned out of their mind, then they were just some heartless bastards who didn’t give a damn if your kid was bullied or made fun of on the bus. Hell, sometimes they would even join the execution! That’s what Mandy believed, anyway.

She tutted yet again, this time louder, and went upstairs, after throwing a wistful glance at her espresso maker. On the way up, she tripped over Rusty the Dog, who for some strange reason, decided to get up this morning and greet his mistress with the whole tail-wagging-tongue-hanging-out ordeal. She tried avoiding falling down on the miniature dachshund, knowing that it would probably kill or permanently disfigure the poor (“Goddamn dog!”) creature, and ended up stubbing her big toe on the first step of the staircase.

That hurt so much that Mandy yelped something unintelligible and clumsily sat down, nurturing the wounded digit. She did that for a while before she remembered that she had to wake up the twins. She muttered, “Oh, crap!” under her breath and went upstairs as fast as she could. Of course, Dawnie was the hardest one to get out of bed as usual, and Danny was the trickiest one. While Dawnie groaned and mumbled, “Five more minutes... Please...” Danny managed to sneak into the bathroom and put Saran Wrap on the top of the toilet seat. Of course, Dawnie (who was awake by the time he was done) didn’t notice it, and of course, Mandy was the one who had to deal with all the wailing and name-calling, since Nate was still doing his peacefully-snoozing routine.("Sure, the 'chirp-chirp' wakes him up, but this? Oh, no way in hell!")

Mandy was quite frustrated by this point, and the fact that she had to miss her morning cup of coffee (“Thanks to Nate-bloody-Ray!”) made everything even worse. Somehow, she managed to calm hysterical Dawnie down; to make Danny grab his lunch and not his sister’s, which he clearly intended to do (not because he liked ham better than turkey, but simply because he knew that Dawnie would have a fit if she found a turkey sandwich in her lunch bag); and she also managed to get rid of Rusty the Dog, who decided that today, out of all days, was the best one to pester his mistress with all the signs of his undying love for her. Several dog treats did their job, and Rusty the Dog was hiding under the spiral staircase, busy with at least four milk bones in his vicinity.

Mandy took the twins to school (“Hurry up or you are going to be late! Danny, give your sister her lunch bag back...! Because she has Hanna Montana on it! That’s how I know it’s hers!”) right on time, and on her way back (“Oh, dear God, please let there be no line at Starbucks drive-through!”) her cell phone rang. Mandy pressed the “Talk” button on her Bluetooth – she would never drive with one hand, while the other one was pressing the phone against her ear. Maybe it was because she happened to have two kids, or maybe it was just a simple case of common-sense-flue, but she would never try to wiggle her way out of morning traffic with a cell phone attached to her ear, while she was getting out of a jam.

“Hello,” she said somewhat shortly, and blinked when the voice on the phone happened to be none other’s than Nate’s.

“Mandy?” he said. “Honey, did you get my dry cleaning last night?”

Oh, Jesus Christ on a bloody motorcycle, she thought. She completely forgot about that. With Dawnie’s Girl-Scout-cookies activities, and Danny’s soccer practice, Nate’s dry cleaning had completely slipped her mind.

“Oh, babe,” she said, carefully eyeing the distance between her and the red Neon. “I totally forgot! I am so sorry! I’ll get it now, how’s that? You don’t have to be at work until ten, so it should be fine...”

She glanced at the car clock. It read 8:37.

“Okay,” Nate said doubtfully. “Hey, where do you keep the milk?”

“By the trashcan,” she almost said irritably, and slid right in front of the red Neon, ignoring an angry honk.

“In the fridge,” she said mildly. “Behind the orange juice.”

“Oh,” Nate said after a short pause. “Right... There it is... Okay, hon, see you soon!”

“See you,” Mandy said absent-mindedly and pushed the off button on her Bluetooth. She glanced into the rear-view mirror and saw the red Neon switch lanes, to her greatest relief.

Okay, she thought, eyeing the traffic that blocked her route to the green light. There is a Starbucks next to the dry cleaner’s place. She wouldn’t even have to go to the drive-through; she could park next to the coffee shop, get her espresso, walk to the dry cleaner’s, and by the time she’d be done, the traffic would be a lot lighter. That brightened her mood a little. Then she remembered a shortcut to their house – it was snaking its way through a bumpy road behind a paper factory – and that made her feel even better. Generally, people tried to avoid that road, since it wasn’t as nice as the main ones (it wasn’t even paved, for crying out loud!), but Mandy didn’t care right now. She knew that if she took that route, she’d be home by 9:20 at the latest.

Everything went according to the plan (thank God!), espresso was fantastic, and the dry cleaning was ready to go as soon as Mandy walked through the door.

She started the car and glanced at the clock. 8:58, perfect! She got to that shortcut road in less than five minutes and slowed down just a tad, making sure she didn't go too fast over those bumps – she didn’t want to damage her car. The song on the radio irritated her – it was some crap from some teenage idol, whose name Mandy completely missed. She glanced at the road in front of her, and when she saw that it was entirely empty, she shifted her gaze towards the radio, pushing the switch button, hoping to find something that didn’t make her wish she were deaf.

Finally, she settled on the classic rock station and looked at the road again.

“Ohmyfuckingodsonofabitch!!” she screamed and slammed on her brake with maddening force.

A girl stood in the middle of the empty road; she stood perfectly still and looked completely bewildered; she was several feet away from Mandy’s car. Mandy’s mind went blank. She tried to swerve but it was too late for that. All she could do was to try and get that brake pedal all the way to the floor and scream silently in her head. The car came to a screeching halt a few inches away from the girl, whose face turned completely white, and Mandy just sat there for a minute or two, her fingers clutching the steering wheel, her breathing fast and whimpering, heart threatening to jump out of her throat. Finally, she regained some control over her shaking body and slowly put the car into Park. She climbed out of the car, her knees shaking, and slowly walked up to the girl.

“You okay...?” Mandy asked in a very weak voice.

The girl just stood there without saying anything or even moving. She was rather tall, her hair wasn’t too long, and it was auburn. She looked like she was in her late teens or maybe early twenties. She was rather pretty even now, while she stood there motionless, her face paper-white, eyes almost shocked. Mandy cleared her throat.

“Are you okay?” she asked again. “I am so sorry, I didn’t see you... I looked at the road and it was empty, so I looked away for a few seconds... Then I looked up and you were right in front of me... I am so sorry! You okay?”

The girl finally blinked (to Mandy’s overwhelming relief) and nodded slowly.

“Yeah...” she muttered. “I am fine...”

“Ummm...” Mandy glanced around. There was nobody in sight; they were the only people on the road.

“Where the hell did she come from?” Mandy thought. “There is nothing here... No houses, no buildings... Not even bushes! There is just that paper factory, but it’s too far from the road... Where the hell did she come from?”

“Ummm,” she said again. “Do you need a ride? I would be happy to drive you somewhere...” Dry cleaning and Nate were the furthest things from her mind right now. “Were you going somewhere?”

Now the girl looked thoughtful. She looked at Mandy through her eyelashes for several minutes, as if contemplating something.

“I don’t know,” she said finally, and Mandy blinked.

“You don’t know where you were going?” she asked carefully. “Where do you live?”

“I don’t know,” the girl said very thoughtfully. Now she looked very serious.

“What is your name?” Mandy expected another ‘I don’t know’ answer.

“Katrena,” the girl said instead, and Mandy blinked again.

“Katrina?” she said carefully.

“No,” the girl said slowly. “Katrena... With an ‘e’...”

“That’s an unusual name...” Mandy thought.

“What is your last name?” she asked aloud.

“I don’t know,” the girl with a strange name muttered.

Mandy bit her lip. Is she an amnesiac of some kind? She knows her name but nothing else? This was very bizarre.

“You don’t know or you don’t remember?” she asked as carefully as before.

“I...” the girl (“Katrena, with an ‘e’ ”) frowned. “I guess it’s both,” she finished with a small shrug.

Mandy chewed on her lower lip with gusto. What was she supposed to do now? Leave her here in the middle of nowhere and go home? Mandy frowned. She was not going to do that, she decided finally. Maybe the girl is faking, maybe she will end up robbing Mandy’s house, laughing at Mandy’s naiveté, but Mandy decided to take her chances.

“Come on,” she said and gestured towards her car. The girl blinked. “I can’t just leave you here all alone,” Mandy explained. “Let me take you to my house. You can stay there until we figure out what happened to you...”

The girl’s eyes flashed with something strange – Mandy couldn’t tell what it was – and she slowly nodded, as if weighing her options.

“You are very kind...” she muttered while following Mandy to the car. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Mandy smiled at her, thinking that if the house indeed ended up being robbed, this would be the last time she did the whole ‘Good Samaritan’ thing.

©Katya Dee; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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