Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Short story project: Unidentified Flying Object, Part 5

Light streamed in from the living room windows when I woke up several hours later. I’d passed out in the entrance of my apartment still wearing my jacket, my key chain cupped inside my hand. It took me several minutes to remember everything that had happened the night before, but it came back. Would there be backlash in response to my careless exposure? It might depend on what that man was doing on the roof of the Sears Tower, and why he’d chased by the second man with the gun.
I spent both Saturday and Sunday night out at the north end of town, although it turned out that there were no apartment buildings tall enough to get a good view of the city from. Instead, I spent most of my time walking the street, and keeping my head down. Monday at work was dreadful, I’d slept so little all weekend, a trend which continued on into Tuesday and Wednesday, that I could barely keep my eyes open. By Thursday, when I’d received no unexpected visitors dressed in dark, nondescript suits, I decided it would be safe to enjoy the return of fine weather and eat my lunch outside.
Thursday was sunny, and warm, and I peeled off my jacket a few minutes after sitting down on a bench across from the library. I dug through my purse for a moment searching for my cigarettes, which I eventually found in the bottom of the bag, then rifled through the contents a second time for my lighter. Leaning back, I raised my cigarette to my lips and lit it.
“You know, those things will kill you.”
My heart pounded and I nearly dropped my cigarette. The speaker’s voice was nightmarishly familiar. I took another drag, and fully exhaled before I looked up to confirm my suspicions. For a mysterious, possibly dangerous man, he was alarmingly attractive…and young. “So will jumping off of buildings,” I said as calmly as possible.
“You remember me?” The man smiled, then dropped onto the bench next to me.
I stood up, and scanned the sidewalk. Everything looked normal, everyone looked busy, hurrying to appointments, shopping, whatever people did on their lunch breaks. No one was interested, or even cared that I was here with this strange young man who I’d saved from plummeting to his death a week ago.
“How did you find me?” I took a wide step back to make sure I was out of arm’s reach. I couldn’t take off in the middle of the day, but I could probably sprint back to the library without anyone noticing my feet weren’t touching the ground.
“You said you were a librarian, Claire.” He grinned.
“Hm,” was the best reaction I could muster. A little warning bell rang in the back of my mind went off. How long had he been looking for me? His determination was nothing short of alarming. Despite the warm weather, goose pimples flared up along my arms.
“I’m Jason, by the way. I don’t think I’ve said that.”
He held out his hand to me, but I only stared at him.
“Would you care to sit?” Jason motioned to the spot that I’d vacated.
“I’d prefer to stand,” I said, then took another drag on my cigarette.

Jason popped up from the bench and shoved his hands in his pockets, causing his shoulders to hunch forward slightly. He looked uncomfortable and nervous as he paced in front of me, not like the highly trained government-agent type. “Look, I need your help.” Jason stopped mid-stride and pivoted toward me. “And I can help you.”
To be continued...look for more of the story on Thursday, March 27th, 2014.

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