Emerald Aisle

Long ago, I had a poll asking my readers to choose my next writing prompt. After the winner was selected, “Be not afraid of the dark and a song on the radio will reveal a deception,” I quickly started writing the story. However, I did not quickly finish writing the story. I do make good on my promises though, and the story is now finished (minus a little editing work)! I took a little liberty with the original prompt, but that’s just where the story ended up going; I had no control.

The full story will be published in my upcoming collection this spring, but for now, here is a little sneak peak!

Keep busy, thought Morgan. From her cubicle, she had the best view of her torturer. Slowly his hands ticked, leaving a fresh scar on Morgan’s mind as they carried out their punishment. Only two hours to go until the vacation of a lifetime and he chose now to move the slowest he ever had. These two hours would drag on forever if Morgan couldn’t find something to keep her occupied.

In her excitement, she had been the most productive at work that she had ever been. In addition to finishing all her reports, she had also cleaned her desk and organized all the files anyone might need access to in her two-week absence. It wasn’t often she took a vacation. In fact, the last time she was able to get away was just for a weekend three years ago. Her college roommate had a Vegas wedding and while she was happy to leave the windy city for a while, the booze-filled weekend could hardly be called a vacation.

This would be different for Morgan. Not only was it going to give her a chance to relax, it would also allow her to cross something off her bucket list. Since she was a little girl, she had dreamed of traveling to Ireland. She longed to witness for herself the Emerald Isle and now, nothing would stop her from achieving her dream.

She knew she had to look busy, otherwise her boss would find some project that would take her far longer than two hours to complete. She never used her work time to browse the internet, but at least it would look like she was doing something and she could do a little more reconnaissance on where she would be by that time tomorrow.

If she were at home, Ashford Castle would already be bookmarked on her browser, along with at least another dozen places she hoped to visit while she was in Ireland. Bookmarked or not though, it appeared her plan to waste time looking at pictures would have to wait. Instead of her home page, she was met with a “this page can’t be displayed” notification. She typed in a few URLs and was met with the same response.

She stood up to check with Rose who had the cubicle next to hers. Rose spent most of her day on Pinterest trying to find crafty ideas for things she would never create. If the internet were down for everyone, she would be the first to put in a call to IT.

Rose wasn’t in her cubicle though. In fact, when Morgan looked around the office, none of her co-workers seemed to be there. She’d been so preoccupied that she hardly noticed the lack of usual noise. Even more unsettling, there was rarely a time when the phones weren’t ringing throughout the room and now with no one to answer them, not even one made a sound.

She picked up the receiver from Rose’s desk and was met with silence. That had to be why Rose was gone. If she couldn’t call IT, she would go down to the basement to get someone to fix the problem. Where was everyone else though? Morgan did need a distraction until she could clock out of work. Maybe if she took the stairs, it would eat up a little more of her time.

The heavy door echoed through the stairwell as it slammed shut. The sound alone would have been enough to startle Morgan, but when the lights went out at the same time, the effect was terrifying. Morgan was not one to let her emotions get the better of her, but in that moment, she could have been mistaken for the lead in a B horror film.

She reached in her pocket for her cell phone to light the way but realized that she left it on her desk. She turned around to go back, but when she pulled on the door, it didn’t budge. She was locked in a stairwell, in the dark, all alone, with less than two hours until she was supposed to go on the trip of a lifetime. Her only hope was she would be able to open a door on one of the other floors.

She shuffled to the wall and made her way to the top of the stairs. She grabbed the railing tightly and took a cautious step down, feeling for the step. It might take a while, but this wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. Just as she was getting the hang of it, she misjudged the distance between steps and before she knew it, she was tumbling down the stairs. She thought the stairs were bottomless and that she would never stop. Then, her head hit the wall.

© Autumn Siders 2019