Friday, February 18, 2011

'Meet me at Union Station' #fridayflash


‘Meet me at Union Station.’   
My breath came in ragged gasps as my shoes slapped the pavement.
‘I have information about your daughter.’
Spurred by hope, I sprinted across the Hollywood Freeway onto the Los Angeles Street overpass. There were lanes and lanes of crawling traffic spewing exhaust fumes. My streaming eyes could barely read the next message:
‘Don’t call the police or your daughter’s dead.’
I fell face forward, yelping in terror. My iPhone danced along the broken concrete. I snatched it just as it was about to be scrunched by a scruffy boot. I lay there, panting, clutching it to my chest. If I lost my phone, the diabolical game would be over.
Ignoring my torn jeans and the pain in my knee, I struggled to my feet and pushed forwards again. I ran directly towards El Pueblo de Los Angeles.
As I passed the El Pueblo Historical monument, my mind flicked to what I’d once read about the old padres blessing the animals every Easter. ‘Oh bless me padre,’ I whispered, crossing myself, ‘Protect my Angelique.’
I checked the screen. I couldn’t read it for dust and sweat. A quick rub on my shirt and there was the next message:
‘Head through the Instituo Culturo Mexicana. Pay close attention to what you see.’
I stood rooted to the spot. What is the Instituo Culturo Mexicana? My head jerked around, looking for a landmark. I imagined malevolent eyes followed my every movement. I heard a laugh behind me, glanced around–just a crowd haggling over souvenirs.
Like a swimmer leaving the blocks I took a deep breath, dived in and raced through the curving arcade of churro stands. Even in my terror my stomach craved a churro’s warm crunch.
When had I last eaten? On the plane from Sydney? Twelve hours?
Everything had become blurred once I knew my Angel was missing: one moment a high school senior, and the next on a plane to Los Angles in search of her dreams 
Dreams that had turned into a nightmare for both of us.

The LA crowd carried me along.
What was I meant to see? What did that last message mean?
The crowd paused. I stopped, ignored the ‘Watch it lady’ from the cowboy who’d bumped into me. I could hear mariachi music. Then I saw him, a snake-charmer in a side alley. What? My eyes focused on his brightly-coloured turban as he sat cross-legged, playing his flute, the snake swaying in time. I held my breath, mesmerised by the surreal scene.
Then I saw her.
Her long straight hair glinted in the sun as she stood watching the snake charmer.
My heart flip-flopped against my chest and I sobbed with the beginnings of relief.
Could it be my Angel? I’d know my daughter anywhere…I’m her mother…it must be…but why was she just standing there?
I ran forward screaming ‘Angel! Angel!’
One touch away from my Angel, a black-shirted arm hit me in the chest.
Pouf! I gasped, winded, nearly toppling over.
The blond head turned in my direction. Dark eyes instead of blue. Pale skin instead of bronze. Hate instead of love.
The energy drained from my body. Hopelessness instead of hope.
The black arm circled the slim waist. The two disappeared into the crowd like the fading credits of a movie.

‘Be at Union Station by 3:00. Or your daughter dies.’
‘Oh God, oh God, help me…’ I cried, but I knew it was up to me. I was on my own. I had to save my Angel...




The Golden Eagle said...

I could definitely feel the tension in this piece! And now I really want to know what happens next.

Great writing.

L'Aussie said...

The Golden Eagle: That's what I wanted to hear! Thanks!

Janet Aldrich (TEC4) said...

You've got me hooked! I really want to read more, and to know more about the characters. Keep up the good work! You do a great job of providing description without getting buried in detail.

L'Aussie said...

Janet: Welcome! Thank you!

Deanna Schrayer said...

Denise, this is so exciting! I too want to know what happens next. I felt myself pushing her along, trying so hard to help her. Fantastic pacing, a thrilling ride!

Side note: the text of the messages may be too small - I had a difficult time reading them, had to squint.

Eric J. Krause said...

Good story! The tension was quite thick. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

Steve Green said...

A panic-inducing view of every parents nightmare, and the determination to get their kid back.

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

Oh wow and TBC too? I can feel the panic throughout. I love the italicized comments throughout from both the phone call from the kidnappers and mother's inner voice speaker. An exhilarating read.

Harry said...

Tension, danger and desperation in spades. I'll be staying tuned.

Hey, any chance you'll be passing back by that churro stand on the way to Union Station? :)

L'Aussie said...

Deanna: Thanks and thanks for the alert re the small print.

Eric: Glad you caught the tension.

Steve: Yep. That's right.

Rachel: Glad you enjoyed it.

Harry: Wish I could but it's a bit far away, ha ha.

Anonymous said...

I'll be tuning in for more! What a hook you just launched. And the snake charmer. Great reading.

N. R. Williams said...

Oh how terrible for your character. I hope she makes her way around L.A., I'd be lost there too.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

L'Aussie said...

flyingscribbler: thanks!

Nancy: I sure would be too but I enjoyed imagining it!

Fourth Grade Teacher said...

I did come back to read it! It's awesome! I drooled at "a churro's warm crunch." I love them! This is a great story! I'll have to check back to watch it continue.

My writing blog is I should go post something in Snarkeyville one of these days, though. Thanks for stopping by!!