Read the Community Novel: Chapter 7 by Sarah Burkett

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Kevin leaned back and stretched his back. He had been staring at the computer for too long. Everything was starting to blur together. He couldn’t stop what he was working on. Even though he had to be at the site of the volunteer clean-up early in the morning, he had to find out what he could. He worried the FBI, or whoever was involved would find out exactly what he was working on.

He could see the picture of the spar from Topeka High. It had originally been on the 1797 frigate U.S.S. Constitution. There were rumors floating around that it had had a secret message; the ship, not the spar, but from the research he had done, Kevin found that there were some that believed it, itself, contained codes. He wasn’t sure where those codes could lead, but he wanted to find out more. He jumped when his phone vibrated. He just stared, stupefied, as it vibrated right off of the desk.

He picked the phone up off of the ground. He cursed when he noticed the small crack in the back. He was thankful that it was on the phone cover, but that just meant one more thing he had to take care of. He flipped the phone over, and activated the screen. There was a text from Kate.

Found something else in this manuscript. Where do you want to meet?

Kevin re-read the text several times. He looked at the desk. He had a copy of his own, and wondered what else she had found. He put the phone on the desk, trying to think of a response to the text. He picked up the copy he had on the desk. Circled in red was the spar he had recognized. He rubbed his hands over his face. He reached down and picked up the phone. He.activated the screen and typed a quick response.

Volunteer clean-up tomorrow on the 46th St roundabouts. Starts at 9am. Meet me at the McDonald’s at noon.

He placed the phone on the desk and stood up. He reached his hands up and over his head, stretching out his back muscles. He leaned back slightly and groaned in relief when he felt, and heard, his back release a loud pop.

He started to take a step, after straightening, when his phone vibrated again. He reached down and picked it up. He activated the screen, and when he saw the text, he nearly dropped it again.

Stop looking into what you know not about. For your safety, and the safety of those you care about.

Kevin nearly dropped the phone when he read that. Who had sent him this text? He didn’t recognize the number. It wasn’t even a Topeka number from what he could tell. He put the phone down, and backed out of the room. He knew the phone wasn’t going to detonate, and while he felt stupid feeling that way, he didn’t want to be in the same room with it. He wasn’t going to delete it until he had a chance to show it to Kate.

He quickly walked to his room for some much needed sleep. If he was going to have any hope of being able to truly think clearly he needed to sleep, and sleep now.

Kevin felt himself spinning around, and heard voices. He opened his eyes, blinking to help his eyes adjust to the bright light overhead. He tried to lift his hand, but it was too hard. There was something holding it down. He looked down, and felt bile rise up in his throat. Wrapped around his wrist was a large black snake. No, wait, that was a rope, not a snake, he thought to himself. He swallowed and looked at the other wrist. The same thing was happening with that wrist. He was tied down. But where was he? He looked up, and did everything in his power not to drop his jaw. It looked like he was on a ship. Why was he on a ship?

The seat that he was in seemed to pitch and shake, so he had to be on a ship. That was the only thing he could think of.

“I see that you are awake,” a voice said behind him. He tried to turn around, but couldn’t.

“Where am I?” Kevin asked, fear evident in his voice.

“You need not worry. You are safe. For now,” the voice said.

“What do you mean ‘For now’?” Kevin asked.

“If you keep your nose out of what you’ve started to stick your nose into, you’ll be safe, sound, and will have a chance, maybe, of surviving.”

Kevin tried to turn around and look at who was talking to him, but he couldn’t see. He couldn’t turn around. The ropes on his wrist were too tight, and there was another wrapping it’s way around his chest. The more he struggled, the tighter the bonds seemed to become.

“Do not resist the bonds, they will keep you where you need to stay. And stay you will do.”

Kevin started to speak, but heard a loud beeping noise, sounding out of place. He looked around. He recognized the sound, but from where?

Kevin jerked awake and sat up in his bed. What the heck kind of dream was that? His mind was having a little too much fun in messing with him. He rubbed his face as he hit the button on his alarm, silencing the incessant beeping it was doing. He looked at the time, and nearly shot out of the bed. He had fifteen minutes to get to the roundabouts on Forty-Sixth Street to help clean up that area. He shook his head thinking about the stupidity of three roundabouts in less than five miles.

He climbed out of the bed, and grabbed the closest pair of pants. He took a sniff. Eh, they didn’t smell bad. He was going to be outside, cleaning up trash. Why did it matter if his clothes were clean or not? He grabbed a tee out of the drawer and put it on. He didn’t even pay attention to what it was that he was wearing.

He grabbed his keys off the dresser, and headed to the door. He stopped and snapped his fingers. His phone. He needed his phone. He went into the study, and quickly grabbed it. Then he headed out the door, making sure he locked it.

Kevin got to the roundabouts in record time. He had found himself constantly checking his rear view mirror, worried there was a cop or two behind him. It would have fit with how his luck had been running. He parked his car in the parking lot of Core First Bank, at the corner of Northwest Forty-Sixth Street and Northwest Fielding Road. There weren’t a lot of cars and he wondered if he was going to be one of the only people who were going to be working on this project.

As he got out of the car, two more vehicles showed up, a pick-up truck and a small compact car. He instinctively took a step back, and pressed himself to his car. As the people got out, three women and two men, he breathed a small breath of relief. It was obvious these were not people after him, but ones who were also volunteers.

One of the men smiled at Kevin. “Hi, there. You here for the roundabout clean-up?” he queried. He was an older gentleman, short of stature, but not slim of build. He was balding, and his hair was obviously dyed to hide the grays. One could only hide so much gray. He was wearing a pair of aged overalls. They had obviously seen some use, stained with mud and muck.

Kevin smiled slightly. “Yes, I am.”

“Community service or volunteer?” one of the woman asked. She was petite, both in stature and build. She was wearing her medium length blond hair in a ponytail.

“A mixture of both, I guess you could say,” Kevin replied honestly.

“Eh, I think we’ve all got an understanding of that,” the other man responded lightly. He was tall where the older man was short, and skinny with the weight. He was obviously younger, mid-to-late twenties, at the max.

The other two women just smiled politely. They looked to be sisters, maybe even related to the third woman. They were taller, but also slim, with similar features, and hair color. They all seemed to know each other well, as if they had worked together before. The older man confirmed the suspicion when he introduced everyone. “Well, welcome to the little group. I’m Travis Goldstone.” He pointed to the other man. “This is my son, Parker, and his wife, Alyssa,” pointing at the tiny woman. “The other two are Alyssa’s sisters, Chelsea and Evie.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Kevin, Kevin Emilie.”

“Well, Kevin, it’s nice to meet you. How about we go on up to the roundabouts, and begin our work?” Travis smiled broadly. It was more than obvious that the man was anxious to start the project.

As they walked up to the roundabout, they made easy conversation. It wasn’t a long walk, less than five minutes. it was probably closer to two or three.

“So, Kevin, what do you do for a living?”

“I work for the city, sort of in management,” Kevin said evasively. He couldn’t be sure what the intent behind the question was, and he was still leery after that text before he’d gone to bed.

“Oh, that sounds like it would be both interesting and stressful,” the one Kevin assumed was Evie said.

“Sometimes, yes, it is definitely.”

The conversation stopped as they came to the road. It was a busy Saturday. There were cars going around the roundabout. Some were being slow and careful. Kevin watched as a few cars took the turn too sharp and nearly ran themselves and other vehicles off the road.

“People in this town really need some driving lessons, don’t they?” asked Parker.

Kevin laughed lightly, and didn’t notice the car that came careening around the east side of the roundabout. The car jumped the edge of the inside edge of the roundabout, and the driver over-corrected, sending the car hurtling towards the group, standing in the grass, waiting to cross to the interior of the roundabout.

“Look out …” was screamed, by whom, Kevin didn’t know. He stared, frozen, unable to move, as the car headed right towards him. He felt hands push him out the way, right as the car slightly jumped the curb. If he hadn’t been pushed out of the way, he would have, for sure, been run over. He just stood there, staring at the marks in the grass.

“Oh holy crap,” Parker yelled, grabbing Kevin by the shoulders. “What the hell was that?”

Kevin shook his head, completely in a fog, unable to respond. He felt his heart thudding in his chest, and bile rising in his throat. He felt an overwhelming urge to vomit. If not that, to run screaming through the streets. He felt like he was going to pass out. He couldn’t believe the close call he had just had.

“Someone call 9-1-1. The cops need to do an investigation of this!”

Kevin shook his head quickly. “No, no need for cops. No one got hurt,” he said. “No, we need to just do what we came here to do.”

He wondered if this had anything to do with the text he had received. He hoped not. He hoped it was just the normal idiot driver that Kansas was notorious for. Kansans did not have a clue, at all, on how to drive on roundabouts.

The group continued to stare at him. “I promise, I’m okay. Let’s just get to work. The sooner we start, the soon we can finish,” he told them.

“If you say so, Kevin. But if that changes, let us know,” Parker told him. The group nodded in response.

Download and print Chapter 7 by Sarah Burkett (5 page .pdf)
Keep reading!  Chapter 8 by Paul Swearingen

About the Author

I’m a 30-year-old mom of two, married to the local mailman. I’ve lived in Kansas for eight years, and lived in Florida and Indiana prior to that.
I’ve been writing my whole life. I was the kid who loved to stay inside and live out my own imaginary world. I had friends in “real life” but I was more stuck on the “imaginary”. Not in the “they’re totally real” way, but more of it was nice to have control over something.

I hope, one day, to fully finish a novel, but until I do that, I’m just enjoying blogging and taking pictures of the world I live in.