Chaper 3

Written by: Linda Alley

At 9:55, Art’s boss took a phone call. Through the glass panels, Art watched the colour drain from her face. Then she hung up and redialled. His own phone rang.

“Art,” her usually brisk voice was hoarse. “I need you to take over from Paul on the Brettamol project.”

Art nearly fell off his chair. Brettamol, a pharmaceutical company in Roverhampton, was their biggest client. After a recent break-in by animal rights activists, they had contacted Art’s company and invested thousands in a new security system which was due next week.

“Where’s Paul?” Art asked, his heart suddenly skipping.

“I’m not at liberty to say.”

Art glanced across the corridor. Her face was turned away, but he saw a tiny stream of mascara trickle down one check.

“He’s dead, isn’t he?”

There was a sharp intake of breath. She stared right at him.

“How do you know that?”

Don’t worry. Paul will get sorted out soon.

Art’s armpits felt suddenly moist. He leaned forward in his chair and his shirt stuck to his back.

“Just a…guess. What happened?”

“I told you I can’t say anything yet…his family…they don’t…just start working on Brettamol, OK?” her voice cracked and she hung up.

Art opened his browser and typed in two words. He sat staring at his screen for a long time. According to Google, Clarke Abaddon didn’t exist.

At midday, Art went down to the sandwich bar on the corner and ordered a BLT on rye. He slipped into one of the plastic booths by the front window and tried to eat, but the bread grated like sandpaper on his dry tongue. He attempted to flush it down with a mug of tea, gagging as a piece of bacon became temporarily lodged in his throat. 

Art glanced at his watch. 12:25. Good, he thought. He’s not coming. I’ll go back to the office. Paul will be at his desk and all of this will just be a bad dream.

“You waiting for someone?” the cashier asked.

Art stared around. “What makes you say that?”

The girl tilted her head. “A man came in for a double expresso about an hour ago. Think he might have been a film extra because his suit was sort of well… Dickensian.”

Art stood up. “Clarke Abaddon!”

“Is that his name?” She rummaged in the cash register. “Said he couldn’t wait. Asked if I could give this to someone called Art. That you?”

She pushed a silver envelope across the counter and Art slit it open. Inside was a one-way ticket for this afternoon’s 6:40 express. However, instead of his home station, the destination was Roverhampton, the last stop on the line. Art shook out the envelope, but there was no note. He turned over the ticket. 

Scrawled on the back in slanting, cursive handwriting was a verse from the Bible.

“They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, who in Hebrew is called Abaddon...”  - Revelation 9:11


Wow. wow, wow Linda!! How I am going to keep up with this kind of writing? I am scared to even attempt. What a fantastic chapter. I just hope I can meet at least few expectations that your chapter has created.
Thank you so much, Hemali. After reading your wonderful chapter for the 'Gacgon' serial, I'm sure you can!
I waited, and waited, and waited until finally I thumped the desk as I read the last line. The clues have been opened to reveal a bitter-sweet pill. Will Art succumb to temptation or will the Angel of the Abyss be thwarted. A lovely example of a writer skirting the character's feelings and true thoughts but keeping the tension and plot very tight until the reader is confronted with the main character's realization that his worst fears are coming true. Wonderful chapter. I would definately buy this book. 5 stars.
Thanks, Ray. Of course I had to use that great clue you slipped in! I was a bit worried that Art wasn't reacting strongly enough, but basically I ran out of words.
Isn't it always the way. You are just getting to grips with your chapter and then run out of space. It really is infuriating. A great chapter, none-the-less.
I agree with Ray, This is a terrific chapter Linda. It builds in tension and mystery and has a great flow. You drop clues along the way and pick up on others. Excellent. What is really satisfying to me as a reader is I want to find out what happens next. Keen to find out in fact!