A Crowdsourced Novel
Read it here – Say what comes next.
Tony had stolen a cheap Chevy for this job. When they reached heavy traffic, he closed to within two cars of the BMW and grinned. Either these guys didn’t expect a tail or they didn’t care. The one in front leaned his seat back. The one in back slid down out of view. The driver didn’t turn his head. Nighty-night boys.
* * *
The BMW wasn’t big on trunk room. In the dark, the woman’s shoulder dug into Frank’s face and her hip pressed against him. Then she gasped and took three deep breaths before he felt her teeth. She scraped at his cheek, working the duct tape off his face. With a rip it was gone. He spat out the rag and coughed. “How—how did you do that?”
“Tape doesn’t stick so good to makeup. Those idiots should’ve wrapped it all the way around.” She paused, then whispered, “We better keep the noise down. What’s your game in this?”
“I don’t know. Don’t even know what they want.” Frank realized she had no reason to believe him. The car abruptly slowed then accelerated and when they pressed against one another, the heat of a blush traveled across his face. He knew she couldn’t see it in the dark of the BMW trunk and didn’t speak again until he got his breathing under control. “I don’t even know your name.”
“Call me Roya.” She breathed on his wet skin. “Roya Fetova. And you’re Frank, right?” Suddenly she made a sharp exclamation. “I hate duct tape. Taping my elbows. The sadistic—” She stopped, then whispered again. “They trussed my wrists to my ankles. Can’t even kick my way out. Try to roll over and I’ll work you free.”
“No room. They tied me the same way.”
“Then I hope your teeth are sharp.” He felt her shift position. “Try to reach my elbows—my hands are numb.
Frank spoke in low tones as he struggled to work his way down her back. “Sorry you got mixed up in this. You must be worried about your twins. I bet they’re smart kids. They’ll probably know to wait for the police and it will turn out all right.” It sounded lame but he hoped it gave her some comfort.
A quiet laugh. “My twins are what I call my two Glocks. My Beagle—well that’s another piece of hardware. Just say I was making a delivery.”
Frank thought about that for a few seconds. “Did your car really break down?”
“You don’t need to know. I can tell you they took my purse just like they took your wallet. They’ll use my phone and ID to find out all about me, but they won’t learn anything real. And if that Italian smoothy thinks he owns me, he’s in for a surprise.”
Frank bit at the tape and she gasped. “That hurt?”
“I’ve had worse.”
He spit out a chunk of the sticky stuff. “It’s all twisted. This is gonna take some time.” He spit again, then rubbed his mouth clean against the carpet. “Who are you really?”
“All we need to talk about is how to get away.”
“Well, you seem to be the one with the answers.”
“Yeah, but not to that particular question.
* * *
The sun came up behind Tony as they left the city behind. Tailing under these conditions was easy. Then the BMW took an off-ramp. Tony stopped at the top of the bridge and watched it head north.
He backed down the apron and then drove onto the ramp. This road headed past some gravel pits then into the cornfields. Not a town in miles. He drove fast till he saw the black car crest a hill, then followed at an easy pace.
He came over the hill and spotted them just as a gravel truck appeared and drove right over the front of the BMW like a speed bump. The noise–even at that distance. The clouds of dust. Tony came to a stop and watched through binoculars. Watched a man kick open the back door. Watched him climb out. Pull a gun. Shoot the approaching truck driver. No hesitation whatsoever. Holy—
A huge man crawled out the same door head first. He opened the trunk and hoisted the man out, then the girl. Carried them like luggage. Slung them high into the bed of the truck, one at a time. Tony knew if he ever faced Gort, he’d shoot first and shoot to kill. The two men climbed into the cab of the truck and rumbled down the highway.
Tony cruised up to the wreck and got out. From the dashboard forward, nothing but crumpled metal. Glass windshield a sagging mess. He grabbed the long hair of the driver and turned his head. Neck broken. Bloody face. He felt for a pulse. Dead.
He walked to the truck driver. The smell of whiskey and blood. A fly crawled across the man’s face.
Tony got in his car. Pulled into the ditch and around the wreck. Drove off in search of the gravel truck.
In five miles he saw dust at a side road. Pulled to a stop. Approached on foot. A private drive, led to a large shed. A grass runway in the cornfield. A single engine Cessna turned into the wind. It’s prop got loud and it tore down the runway and into the sky.
What happens next? TAKE YOUR TURN [click here]
HOW TO PLAY–This is an interactive story based on Nate’s game in my novel. You get to say what comes next:
1.) KEEP IT SHORT – It’s easy to play Nate’s game. Just enter your idea as a comment like, “their jeep drives off a cliff.” Don’t worry about form—just suggest the next step in the story. I’ll pick one, write it, and post it as a scene in serial form.
2.) KEEP IT CLEAN – I hold the veto pen. Since this is an experiment, I get to add rules as we go along.
3.) SHARE – Your posts are a precious gift to me. Maybe you’ll help write my next novel. Maybe we’ll just have a great time. I take you at your word that all ideas are your original thoughts. No criticism. No arguments. No lawsuits allowed. Let’s have some fun.
9 responses to “ROYA FETOVA – 4”
OK. Now you’re back on track. I see they didn’t get untied in time. At least not entirely. Roya’s elbows are free and her hands tingle as blood flows to them. Franks hands are okay because of his suit sleeves. But they both got bloody and dirty from being tossed in the bed of that gravel truck, even if it was mostly empty. Frank’s fingerprints are on Luigi’s gun and for some reason or other his prints are on file–because he worked for the Census. Luigi wiped the pistol clean and pressed it into Franks’s hand then left it by the truck driver. That way he’ll be in trouble with the police. Maybe the Feds. Not just the Mafia. Tony sees the gravel truck hidden in that big shed. I assume it’s the hangar for the airplane.
Agent Stan Harris sat at his desk in the FBI Chicago Bureau trying to work through a stack of reports two weeks old. One report caught his eye. A snitch looking for favors had given a lead on Tony Ferragamo. Harris didn’t much care what happened to Tony—but he was the one in charge of this witness gone missing. Apparently, Tony had assumed the name of Frank Smith and was not trying to hide it. Although alone in the office, Stan mused out loud, “Tony must be planning a scam against Don Grasso.”
Although Tony was pretty sure Frank Smith would meet an untimely death, he was afraid Grasso was on that small airplane that just took off. Those goons didn’t realize they had the wrong guy—but Grasso would spot it right away. Tony heard the engine of a small plane coming back towards his location. He peeked out just in time to see a body tossed from the plane into a small lake across the road from the grass runway. It was Frank Smith.
Great stuff, especially the new FBI character but I don’t want to kill off my protaganist yet. Sure that’s what you mean to do?
Of course you can’t kill off Frank now, unless it’s yet another case of mistaken identity. Don’t do it. I’m interested in Roya Fetova. Wow, where did you get that name? This gal knows things nobody else knows, especially the reader. She’s not there by accident. She’s like an experienced field operative gone undercover. All she’s said so far are lies. Is she tied up with the FBI, the Mafia, some other group, or does she have her own agenda? She expects to accomplish something or gain something by throwing herself in with poor Frank. She also wants him to fall for her to help accomplish some practical goal–whatever that might be.
I guess the challenge with multiple authors is not thinking too far ahead. Each person may have his or her own idea of who the characters are and which ones are bit players and what ones are central to the story line.
And John that is why you are needed as the master editor. So I defer to your plot guidance expertise. And I am sure Frank would appreciate not being a scientific proof of gravity.
Thanks Lee. If you’d insisted, I would have been inclined to go with your instincts. They’ve been good so far. This game is an experiment that’s going better than I could have dreamed.
The reason I know Frank is the protagonist is that the story is told from his point of view (POV). It also begins with his problem that has to be solved if he is to survive and keep his freedom. Because of your input, we also see the story from the POV of Tony, the hit man. There’s no telling how that will turn out. It’s true that we could switch protagonists. Maybe this new FBI agent will become the main character–I don’t know. But Frank isn’t dead yet and I’m glad because he makes it an “it could happen to you” style story.
Something important has taken place in our game. Now we know that–unlike a Hollywood movie–there is no guarantee that the hero will live to the end. I find that remarkable–talking over the future of a guy’s life.
I am trying very hard, as you rightly pointed out, NOT to plan ahead but to let this game flow. I don’t see myself as a moderator, but rather as the writer who draws inspiration from the players of the game. The beauty of it is fitting together an episode that results in many loose ends, harvesting ideas for the next and fashioning those pieces into another episode with loose ends. I may sometimes take a leap and move in a direction contrary to the intent of a player, but even that is inspired by the player’s input. Note how many direct quotes I use. I never know what will happen and that’s a lot of fun.
In my novel, THE GAMEMAKER’S FATHER, two people play an unsupervised game. Whatever either player puts in stays in. That leads to all sorts of surprising game twists but also to personal conflict. With multiple players that model may not be practical but I am trying to stay close to it. We’ve proven that we can work out a problem through dialogue and without the heavy hand of an all-powerful moderator.
Lee, the ball is again in your court. A lot of interesting questions have been raised. Shoot the ball or pass it–it’s up to you.
Delete the last paragraph of my last post and try this one.
Tony was lucky enough to arrive at the airstrip in time to read the FAA tail number on the small plane. November-6-7-5-Alpha. Although he grew up in the ‘hood, Tony’s two years as a grunt in the Air Force taught him a few things. He was pretty sure he could learn from the “N” number who owned thie plane and it’s home base of operation.
Wow, Lee. Great ideas come out of you!
I’ll try to use as many of the ideas as I can. What I leave behind may get used later.