Thursday, September 30, 2010




After much trial and error, I was able to pick the lock with my make-shift wire key. With tremendous relief, I opened the door and looking cautiously right and left, I stepped out into a corridor that was lit intermittently by naked light bulbs. Closing the door noiselessly behind me, I stood still. I listened intently for some seconds. Nothing. Quickly and silently, I proceeded down the passage which stretched ahead of me. I picked up my pace. Then I was running, running, ahead of me lay a flight of stairs.

Should I go up or down? I skidded to a stop undecided. “Down! Down! Go Down!” I said urgently, quietly. My footsteps echoed off the walls of the stairwell as I sped fleet of foot. I was so scared, I couldn’t think straight, I could only move, and this I did as fast as I could.

Of course my inability to think could have had something to do with the fact that my body was flooded with a good deal of adrenalin. I was fully in flight or fight mode, and since there was no one to fight, I had to flee. My breathing was becoming labored and sweat poured off me, it got in my eyes stinging me. I got a stitch in my side. I wanted to slow down. But I couldn’t …I dare not. I almost pitched forward and grabbed onto the rail for dear life. This stopped me in my tracks. Dear God! Help me please!

My hands held the banister so tightly, my fingers seemed hooked into claws of iron, and I wondered how I would ever pry them loose. Compelled by necessity to stop in this manner, I bent double, panting heavily. I wanted to sit down and take a rest, but my legs wouldn’t bend. They shook so powerfully from the forced activity and the mega amounts of adrenalin still coursing through my body; I just leaned against the wall trembling and breathing hard.

Then I heard footsteps running in my direction. Taking one last deep breath, I was off again. I jumped over the last three steps at the foot of the stairs and dashed into a room whose door stood slightly ajar.


I had not been crawling in the vent for very long, when I saw a light up ahead. The light was coming from the room below. I slowly and carefully crept to the slits in the vent cover and looked down into the room. Bliss was not there. But she had been, I could smell her cologne. Had they moved her, or had she escaped like I had.

I was happy that our captors didn’t seem to have a very good handle on keeping us captive. I moved on, and kept going. I hoped and prayed that Bliss and I would hook-up soon. Then I heard running, but the sound was not smooth … more like someone moving quickly on steps. Throwing caution to the winds, I hastily wriggled to the next vent opening and looked down into that space.

Bliss was propelled into the room as if shoved by half a dozen hands.

“Thank you Jesus! I found her! I found her! My relief was so great I almost shouted her name, but mindful of our precarious situation, I whispered, “Bliss, Bliss, up here!”

She stood uncertainly for seconds rocking slightly, as if the momentum of her entrance was not yet quite over. Her eyes were wide with fright, her breathing heavy as she looked around wildly. But she didn’t look up. I assumed she hadn’t heard me. What was she looking for? I decided not to speak again, because I suddenly realized she was looking around for something with which to defend herself... from someone or something I had not yet seen.

I guess she was successful in her quest. Because, just as I heard what she was running from, she picked up an umbrella from off the floor and standing behind the door, held it at the ready. I almost laughed out loud. What was she going to do with it, shield her attacker to death, or hypnotize him with the colors?

If the umbrella had been a big, black, hefty number, at least it would have looked as if it could do some damage. Instead, it was dainty, and yellow with white stripes. I would have giggled, if our situation wasn’t so dire.

Bliss stepped further back into her hiding space and stumbled. We both looked to see the cause of her misstep. It was an old hurricane lamp. I smiled. The sight of it immediately brought back some of my most treasured childhood memories. My grandmother had one of these lamps in her house. She would light it, and put in the window sometimes. It always gave off a wonderfully welcome glow. It always made me feel warm and protected.

I shook myself mentally, wondering why I had been transported to such a visceral recollection. Then I understood, the night’s events had so traumatized me, I was using the excuse of the lamp to go to a safe, cozy place, far away from my present circumstance, even if it was just for a little while. I resolved to let go of this image and concentrate on the here and now. Instead of continuing to fuss with getting the vent cover off, I decided to kick it off.

A tall skinny guy burst through the door panting. “You honeys just make it harder on yourselves –”


He didn’t get any further with his statement. Bliss stabbed at him with the umbrella, which opened with a whooshing sound. I kicked the cover off the air-conditioning vent at that precise moment. “Oh hell no!” I yelled.

For one split second his attention was divided. I jumped down from the ceiling, rolled, and was up on my feet. I kicked him hard in the knee. I heard a sound like a tree branch snapping. He collapsed howling. His glasses sailed across the room, and the gun he was holding went flying from his hand.

“Where did you come from? I’m so, so very glad to see you. Are you all right?”

“It’s a long story, tell you later. I’m fine, especially now that I’ve found you. I prayed that you would be all right.”

“I prayed for you too.”

“What are we going to do with him?”

“I know what to do with him.”

He lay on the ground, moaning loudly. I looked at him seething; nostrils flaring. I was consumed by such rage, for long seconds, I did not trust myself to speak or to act.

Calming myself, I knelt beside him and poked him in the chest to get his attention. He looked at me, his green eyes moving around rapidly in their sockets. They reminded me of some game that a child would play with. I wondered what was up with those eyes. I’d never seen eyes move like that before.

“If you don’t shut up, I’ll break the other leg and then I’ll start on your arms. He shut his eyes tight and whimpered.
Bliss had closed the umbrella and was methodically securing it in that position. I wondered why she was going to all that trouble.

“What are you doing? Leave that! Go get the gun!”

She ignored me, and having completed her task, she started beating him with her weapon of choice.

Though taken aback, I quickly jumped out of her way, not wanting to distract her from her ministrations. I also did not want any misdirected blows to land on me. After all, I had done nothing wrong, and I wanted him to get every bit of his deserved punishment.

Bliss ranted as she beat him. She punctuated her adjective based tirade with vigorous blows from the umbrella. It had my sympathy, she was working it hard.

“You are a degenerate! (whack, whack).

“Evil! (whack, whack).

“Slimy! (whack, whack, whack).

“Rotten! (whack, whack).

“Wicked! (whack, whack).

“Immoral! (whack, whack, whack).

“Perverted! (whack, whack, whack).

“Bucket of excrement!” (whack, whack, whack).

He didn’t try to fight her, just lay on his side turned away from her, covering his head with his arms. His broken leg stuck out at an odd angle. I seriously considered stomping on it, but figured Bliss was doing a good enough job beating the crap out of him.

This beat-down could be seen as the appetizer for tonight. Let Bliss soften him up some. Let him laugh to himself thinking that was all there was going to be from us. My actions would be the entrée. It would be up to him really. If the answers to questions we asked him were not forthcoming, I fully intended to do that stomping on his shattered leg. Beating and stomping, I was optimistic we would continue to have the stomach for this fare.

The guy groaned pathetically as Bliss continued to expend her pent up fear, frustration, and anger on him. At last, exhausted, she stopped and leaned on the umbrella breathing hard. I thought that by now, her dainty little parasol would have been destroyed after being so mistreated. But it showed no sign of breakage; it was sturdier than it looked.

Jack Bauer would have been proud of us; I thought, looking around for something with which to tie up our bruised, battered, and hapless guard.

“Serves you right you know! I’ll bet you never thought you would ever get such a beating at the hands of one of your captives?” If you get out of this alive, make another career choice. I don’t think you are too good at this one.” I said these things to him as I bound his hands with good old duct tape I found in a desk drawer.

“Don’t be cruel. I think you busted his knee. He’s in a whole lot of pain.”

“Cruel? Cruel? Pain? You are the maniac here; you almost killed him with your umbrella.” Bliss turned towards me.

“Stay away from me with that thing; you are one dangerous woman when you are angry.”

“I did get a little crazy there for a bit didn’t I?”

“That you did. But it’s all good. I advised him to change jobs. Perhaps assisted by your actions, he will make the right decision.”

We looked at each other and started to giggle uncontrollably. The giggles very soon turned into full belly laughs. I leaned against the wall holding my midsection. My peripheral vision showed Bliss leaning on the umbrella as if it were a walking stick and cackling heartily. It slid from her grasp and fell to the floor with a dull “thunk”.

We looked at each other and we were off again. I sank to the floor roaring with laughter. Bliss followed suit. We must have laughed on and off like this for at least five minutes. At some point in the midst of my glee, I recognized that we were quite hysterical. I acknowledged this fact and just continued to give in to the laughter. I sincerely hoped that we would recover our faculties before we were found by other guards.

At last, we started to come back to our senses. “Ssshhh! Ssshhh! Not so loud. Someone might hear us.” Bliss was finally able to get out. I crawled to where she sat on the floor still quivering with less audible mirth. I put my arm around her shoulder and we leaned against each other. Soon our subdued merriment turned to quiet sobs.

We sat there and just cried and cried. We cried as if we had lost some treasured possession. We had. We had lost our innocence that night. We now knew intimately that there were evil forces in the world that meant us harm. This was not an abstraction. It was very real. We had seen them. They had names – Sam and Greg, and now this nameless character. We cried because we were still a long way from being safe. We cried because we still didn’t know how we were going to escape from this, our larger prison.

Finally spent, we turned to face each other, and foreheads touching, we seemed to draw strength from the connection. For long moments we remained in this position. Our sobs lessened and then turned to shuddering sighs. Getting determinedly to my feet, I helped Bliss up.

“I guess you better gag him.” Bliss said dispiritedly.

“Not so fast, let’s find out where we are, and how to get out of here, also how many more guards there are around. It’s interrogation time.”

The tables had turned. Now we had a prisoner. He glared at us through angry, pain-filled eyes. I looked back at him tauntingly, ready for a fight.

- copyrighted by Kathi Harris

Sponsored by Willow at


At October 1, 2010 at 2:48 AM , Blogger Abhilasha-The Desire said...

You are working out a terrific job Kathi.. I can almost visualize the girls giggling and then sobbing... Hope they soon get out from the cluthces of these jerks... More please

At October 1, 2010 at 3:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kath

I’ve read the chapters in the order written as you directed – from The Window to The Hook-Up. By the way, did you change the Hook Up after you first posted it?

As always, you delivered – you write beautifully; your scenes are vivid; dialogue very real – I can sense the girl’s tension, frustration and fear. I am looking forward not only to how they get out of this situation, but also to future escapades. Story shows a very supportive, close relationship btwn the girls.

As individual stories, the pieces are excellent. As a continuing saga, it doesn’t really work for me. I’m reluctant to invest too much time in the story because I don’t really know where the story is going, nor who these girls are, nor where it takes place. Is it sci-fi? Mystery? Chick lit? Your story is action-packed and now that I’m up to page 10, I want more of the background plot – is there one?

As I’ve told you before, I get confused when there’s more than one narrator, especially when the story is interesting, I don’t want to spend the extra second reading the top to see who’s speaking. But that’s me.

You gave excellent descriptions of the scenes and even the attackers but not much about the girls. Is that part of the mystery that will be revealed later? In the meantime while I wait, I’ve formed an image in my head of them, and later when you describe them if your description does not match with my image, I may be disappointed.

My editor at the MN newspaper advised me a while back that it’s very important when writing a headline for my stories that it be attention getting and active, but it should not be misleading. He cautioned that if a reader thinks one thing from the title or early in the story and then read the whole story and it’s not what they thought it would be, they’d feel misled and I’d lose credibility and readers.

So taking my editor’s words of wisdom, let me tell you what I think I know so far based on what I read:

The girls are very fit. They are young and a little immature [Jack Bauer is their hero; the curse words used in the Hook-up chapter and other language, euww!].

The girls are lovers. [how each talked about finding the other in a loving way, and the gift of the perfume and how it’s said, then in the Hook-up, talked about hooking-up soon]
Could have said, “I had been at the club with my friend Jill, we’ve been friends since kindergarten and we often go dancing after work.” Or, I had been at the club with my soul mate Jill, my partner for the last two years.”

The story is set in a city with cabs (large? Small?) A sentence after the “let’s grab a cab…” could be, “Luckily for us, in NYC cabs are very frequent,” OR, “In Toledo, cabs are infrequent, so we prayed that one would come soon.”

One of the girls was cold at night, so it’s in a city that gets cold, but which city?

I didn’t get to know Bliss’ name ‘til very late. It would have been nice to learn her name sooner. A good place to put it would have been in the Window where the guy said “Hey girls,” The sentence could have read, “Hey girls, Jill, Bliss….,” alternating glances between us.

I’m thinking this might be sci-fi [she wondered what was up with those green eyes, never seen eyes move like that, plus in another scene, girls said they knew intimately about evil forces]

There was one spelling error sluggish, and a couple of grammar errors, same type – “find a way out for Jill and I [should be Jill and me]. When used as subject, Jill and I did bla bla, then it’s correct.

That’s all for now. I look forward to reading the next chapter.
From your friend and fellow writer JH.

At October 1, 2010 at 5:55 AM , Blogger Book Bird Dog said...

Excellent. Can't wait for the next installment! Keep on trekking, Magpie! Here's my Magpie, Blue Genie.

At October 1, 2010 at 8:04 AM , Blogger Julie Jordan Scott said...

Wow. I am reminded of The Girl with the Dragon tattoo here... and I love the idea of naming a child (who grows into an adult) 'bliss' - fantastic!

Half of my magpie this week

At October 1, 2010 at 9:51 AM , Blogger kathi harris said...


thanks ever soooo much 4 ur critical comments. Glad u r enjoying the story so far. Intend 2 answer all ur questions in the coming wks.

Knew it was u as soon as I started reading.

what's the spelling error?


At October 1, 2010 at 10:31 AM , Blogger Stafford Ray said...

I just hope one of them remembers to pick up the gun!

At October 1, 2010 at 11:04 AM , Blogger Doctor FTSE said...

Best writing advice I ever had was this. When you think it's finished, take out 10% of the words, beginning with ALL the adverbs. Adverbs mean you haven't thought of the best verb. Then start on the adjectives. The "descriptive" parts of speech rarely make your writing more "descriptive." Ezra Pound said "If you can't do it with only nouns and verbs, you can't do it." Good writing is images, not adjectives.
I say these stern things because you tell a good story . . . though I don't think Blogland is a good vehicle for serialisation.

At October 1, 2010 at 12:51 PM , Blogger Jingle said...

a tale packed with rich sentiments and moving details..
I see beauty in the conflicts stated..
keep writing!

At October 1, 2010 at 4:29 PM , Blogger Kristen Haskell said...

I just started this in your last installment. I am enjoying it a lot. I can't wait to learn more about these characters.

At October 1, 2010 at 10:36 PM , Blogger kathew said...

fun read- nice segue with the lamp!

At October 2, 2010 at 12:28 AM , Blogger Crystal Mary said...

Well done,,,exciting and suspenceful.
A Roo from Oz

At October 2, 2010 at 3:05 AM , Blogger Brian Miller said...

nice. you managed the split perspective nicely...nice sound use as well with the leg breaking...i did chuckle a bit at her beating him...nice magpie

At October 2, 2010 at 4:37 AM , Blogger Lyn said...

All of this from grandmother's lamp? Amazing...Jack Bauer WOULD be proud! Good heroics!

At October 2, 2010 at 12:22 PM , Blogger Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

nothing like a little old lady style beatdown to keep things interesting :)

At October 2, 2010 at 4:32 PM , Blogger kathi harris said...

Doctor FTSE

Thanks 4 the advice. Will keep in mind 4 nxt write.

At October 2, 2010 at 9:47 PM , Blogger Alakaline said...

I could imagine the whole drama.. very vivid.. and the way you have brought in the lamp - as a source of strength.


At October 2, 2010 at 10:10 PM , Blogger Reflections said...

Rivetting, still trying to figure out which is the heroine, or maybe both.... love the beating!

Nice magpie, and all from just a lamp.

At October 3, 2010 at 6:46 PM , Blogger Tumblewords: said...

I like this - I've always had a desire to beat someone with an umbrella! Looking forward to the next chapter.

At October 4, 2010 at 6:06 AM , Blogger willow said...

I love it when the tables turn in my favor.

At October 4, 2010 at 6:41 PM , Blogger Prayer Girl said...

My first time here and I think I'm hooked. Great Magpie.

Mine is up.


At October 4, 2010 at 9:24 PM , Blogger kathi harris said...

Thanks ever so much 4 ur encouragement guys.

At October 6, 2010 at 12:35 PM , Blogger rel said...

oh my, Those girls are a formidable force.

At October 6, 2010 at 5:04 PM , Blogger Kaelin said...

enjoying these!

At October 7, 2010 at 3:34 PM , Blogger kathew said...

well- now what- this has been a fun series!


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