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Sara L Russell

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Books by Sara L Russell
Serial: Lorna's Shadow #1
By Sara L Russell
Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2002
Last edited: Monday, April 15, 2002

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Recent stories by Sara L Russell
· The Perils of Drink
           >> View all 2
I am making this thriller into a serial exclusively here on AuthorsDen. New episodes will be added as time allows. Even I don't know how it will end yet!

Note 15th April 2002: Episode 2 is being revised, so I have deleted it for now. Check back later for episode 2.... Sara.


Part 1
* * * * * *



“David’s drunk again.”
“What?”
Lorna looked round at her friend Marcie, who was watching Dave from accounts. Dave always made it his buisness to get very drunk on these occasions, especially at the Hargreaves Finance Christmas party. He was near the buffet table, leaning over Karen Smith from personnel. She was a small blonde, just the right height to catch his breath in her face, which was making her whole face scrunch with distaste. Lorna glanced in his direction and managed a wan smile.
“He used to be fairly cute a few years ago”
She observed, loftilly.
“Now he just looks seedy. Must be the thinning hair and ever-expanding gut.”
Marcie laughed.
“Such a shame”
She sniggered.
“And to think, only a while ago he used to boast of his ever-expanding-”
“Yes”
Cut in Lorna.
“Moving swiftly on... do you think anyone would mind if I left now? I mean, dinner is over, and the speeches, thank God...”
Marcie shook her head.
“Well I would mind”
She pointed out, sadly.
“What has happened to you, lately? You were always a party animal, but these days...”
Lorna shrugged.
“I’m still a party animal. Just a very tired one.”
She gazed longingly at the door. Marcie patted her shoulder.
“Look, love, why don’t I get us both some of that strong punch?”
She asked. Lorna did a different kind of shrug this time, invovling half an eyebrow.
“All right”
She muttered. Marcie grinned, turned and headed off toward the punch bowl.

A few moments later, it was clear to Lorna that Marcie was being intensively chatted up by James Denton. Not too bad looking in Lorna’s eyes, James was an assistant manager in the IT department. He had wavy brown hair and blue eyes, a kind of thirty-ish look about him; a few smile lines and quite good dress sense. She glanced at the door again. Now that Marcie was occupied, it might be a good time to slip away.

“Excuse me”
said a mellifluous voice at her side. She turned. A tall, pale man stood beside her. He had dark brown hair and deep-set eyes. He smiled as she looked at him.
“Could I get you a drink?”
He asked kindly, gesturing towards the bar. She shook her head, slowly, wishing she had made straight for the door.
“No thank you”
She said. She could almost hear her car calling her - ‘come away, come home’. Time to be assertive.
“Look, it’s kind of you”
She said, as he looked disappointed.
“But I am very tired. I really just want to go home. In my own car. Thanks anyway.”
She turned to leave. He made a move as if to stop her, touching her arm. She abruptly shrugged his hand away in an almost savage gesture of rebuttal, as if a snake had touched her. He watched her stomp off to the exit, her long black hair swinging like the tail of an irritable cat. He left soon after she left. David continued to annoy Karen. Marcie forgot about Lorna as she chatted to James.

Lorna’s drive home was uneventful but slightly spooky on the dark, almost deserted roads. The trees on her street looked as though they had been carved in amber where the street light touched them. She parked her car carefully a few yards behind a van with wheelchair access. The puddles on her path reflected the moon in two fragments, looking startlingly like eyes as she approached her front door. A fat white moth crawled across the crescent-shaped glass panel, attracted by the dim porch light. She turned the key in the lock and rushed into the house, breathing quickly, panicked by the thick darkness and the quietness of the streets.

Across the road, a man watched her through his kitchen window, scurrying into her house with such obvious nervousness. He smiled and shook his head. He turned away from the window and went through to his dimly-lit living room. He was about to sit down when he caught sight of his face in the circular mirror near the television.
Sometimes I think it might have all been a dream
He thought. He turned his face from side to side, slowly. Down the left side, the harsh burn scars were still there, large as life, as if his face was a cake, with rather uneven pink icing on one side, or a half-deflated balloon covered with odd puckers and creases. The right side was not too bad. But the scars on the left had receded his hairline on that side.
“You’re a freak”
He told himself bluntly. He turned away from the mirror with a long sigh, and sat down to watch a late talk show.

Lorna was sitting at her computer, making updates to her website. She was building up a page about interior design, her other passion beside her job in website design for the Hargreaves site. She had her folder of design photographs open on the desktop, and the FTP upload program was open, ready for her to send new pictures to the site.

She sent the first three pictures, drumming her fingers as her slow modem went about its task. Eventually a grey window appeared:

Upload successful!

Suddenly the screen went blank. Lorna let out a squeal of outrage, thumping the desk with her fist.
“What-?”
She spluttered. She glared at the screen. It was totally black. No... it wasn’t. There was a green letter C, a colon and a backslash, at the bottom of the screen. She was in MS Dos, that strange nether-world of darkness between the screen of the virtual and the world of the actual. She began to feel slightly sick. Was it a virus? Had her computer gone mad?

Words began to appear, as if typed by an unseen hand. The message they conveyed sent a chill through Lorna as she watched the screen. It said:

I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE

She blinked at the screen, feeling numb with shock. The message began to appear again and again:

I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE
I WILL SLUR YOUR PAGE

Lorna leapt up and away from her PC as if it had bitten her. She was trembling. She went out of the room and into the kitchen, where she poured herself a glass of milk laced with cooking brandy. Another glass swiftly followed.

She glanced out of the kitchen window. In the house opposite, the man with the scarred face, was staring back. Bored with the television, he had gone through to the kitchen to draw his curtains before going to bed. He caught sight of Lorna’s frightened face in her dark kitchen, highlighted by the lamp on her kitchen table. He smiled and waved. Lorna looked away, alarmed at the sight of his ravaged face grinning back at her, transformed into a scull’s mirthless rictus in the light from the street lamp by his house.

He had to laugh.
“You old charmer”
He said to himself, as he put his beer glass into the washing up bowl.
“You’ve still got the old magic”.

It was an hour before Lorna found the courage to return to her computer and reboot it to check for damage.
She went online, too, and found that her website had not been hacked, at least not for the moment. So she changed her password to “eggy!” and shut the PC down, satisfied that at least next time, a hacker would not think of such a silly password.

Lorna went to bed. At 3.00am she woke up. The phone was ringing.
What the hell?
She wondered. She tried to ingore it. It went on ringing. She picked it up.
“Hello?”
She murmured, her voice thick with sleep.
Nothing.
“Hello?”
Nothing. Then a sinister sound, like someone drawing a slow breath. Ghostly and soft. Then a click, then a droning unobtainable tone. She hung up, with an irritable sigh, turned over and tried to sleep. But sleep came a little more slowly than before.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lorna’s caller did not sleep, prefering to sit up late and make schemes for further surprises...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

END OF PART ONE...



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Reviewed by m j hollingshead
waiting for part 2
Reviewed by Janet Caldwell
Sara,

I had no doubt that it would be good. I've read your work before and it's always fascinating. If you possibly get a chance would you review my (bio) that is started in short stories. I've got several pages that I may post here before publication. It's all true, I just need some feed back. Thanks Again. I look forward to part two of Lorna's Shadow. :)

Janet Caldwell xoxoxoxo

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