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Snippet

Here’s the opening passage to my contribution to Calexit.  Please let me know what you think.


 

“’Night, Joe,” Jennifer said as she passed her hand under the clinic’s reader to clock out. A faint beep and a flash of red light from the appliance let her know that it had recognized the chip in her right hand and that she was officially able to start her vacation.

“’Night, Jen,” Joe replied. “Gonna be another hot one tomorrow.”

“We’re heading to a bed and breakfast in Monterey for a few days,” Jen held the door open as she paused to talk with the man. “It’ll be cooler on the coast.”

She was tall, with long legs and well-muscled arms. Her hair, which one of her college boyfriends had once described as the color of honey in sunshine, ran down the back of her faded gray scrubs in a tight braid.

“At least you’ll be away from all this smoke.” Joe’s teeth stood out against his dark skin as he smiled at the nurse and stepped out to join her on the cement entranceway. “You want me to walk you to your car?”

The smell of wood burning struck Jen as soon as she stepped out of the clinic’s air-conditioned comfort. The news feeds had been bursting with reports of wildfires in the Sierras all week, but the government had assured everyone that no damage to homes or businesses was expected.

“Nah, that’s all right,” Jen said, smiling again. “It’s just over there.” She nodded at the small, beat-up compact she had parked on the far side of the parking lot. It was the only vehicle left in the lot, since Ramon, who had relieved her for the night shift, had been dropped off by his boyfriend. The harsh light of the LED bar that hung above the entrance reached just far enough out that she could see its dull gray outline against the trees.

“Well, I’ll be here if you need me.”

“Thanks.”

Jen gave the parking lot a good, long look before stepping away from the crumbling patio at the building’s entrance. Her car sat in the shadows of tall eucalyptus trees at the far end of the lot, their pungent scent competing with the smoke in the faint, hot breeze. Above it, the skeletons of floodlights, which she had never known to work in the two years she had worked at the clinic, looked down on the cracked asphalt like immense aluminum flowers. Seeing nothing, she fished her phone from her bag.

She tapped “Hi hon. lving work. C U in the AM. Miss U” onto the screen once she had unlocked it with her identity chip and the CalSec emblem had faded to allow her access to the network. She hit send just as she reached her vehicle. The car noticed her presence and unlocked the door for her. It cheerfully chirped at her and helpfully turned on its interior lights. Their dim illumination made her feel better as she looked over her shoulder to see if Joe was still standing at the door to the building. He saw her look and waved.

Jen raised her hand to wave as well, when she heard rushed footsteps coming across the pavement. She turned to see where the noise was coming from just as someone grabbed her from behind and threw her up against the side of her car.

Instinctively, Jennifer threw her elbow back just like her instructor at her “Strong Women of the Future” class had taught her. Pain lanced up her arm as she felt the corner of her elbow impact with something that crunched under its hard bone.

Pinche puta!” a voice squealed as Jen screamed for help. She tried to turn around to confront her attackers, but strong hands forced her head down. Blood bloomed from her forehead as it caught the hard edge of the door. Jen heard voices behind her, then felt hands tearing the thin fabric of her scrubs.

She screamed again, thrashing to get away. Her phone rattled to the pavement beside the car, along with her bag. Her struggles gained her enough freedom to stand upright once again, and she caught sight of the door to the clinic closing as Joe ducked back inside.

Then, someone grabbed her long braid and used it to drag her head back, then shoved her hard against the windshield. She felt the drawstring of her pants scrape along her hips and thighs as they were yanked down, then another blow to her head made the world fuzzy and dark. The last thing she heard before slipping into unconsciousness was the sound of laughter as someone cut the strap of her bra.

4 Comments

  1. suz

     /  October 30, 2017

    I thought Joe was a real…piece of work! And Jen is one tough lady! If that is what CA will be like if/when they leave the Union, I hope my family there sees the light and get the heck out of there ASAP.

    Seriously though, you put in a bunch of lessons of what not to do as a gal working late at night, as well as what can happen if you don’t pay attention. Or if you work with guys who are a real piece of work…

    I enjoyed your story as well as the rest.

  2. This is why my daughter got a J-frame S&W as a high school graduation present. And why she’s smart enough to live someplace that will let her use it if needed.

    • If my daughter didn’t live on a college campus, she’d have gotten something similar.

      • BadFrog

         /  October 31, 2017

        For her 18th, my daughter got an Emerson La Griffe. It’s proved its worth once so far when a housemates friend though she might be amenable to a new ‘friend’ in the middle of the night.

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