Episode 1 - "Plink's First Peril"
by Camille LaGuire
It was that cozy feeling you have when you are a child with a cold, and you are tucked into bed, and people are hovering to take care of you, and bring you soup and treats and read you stories....
But after that fraction of a second passed, Plink realized she was not lying on a bed. She was not wrapped in a blanket, and her feet were cold -- one foot more cold than the other, because she was wearing only one shoe.
Her head throbbed, and she felt nauseated. Her twenty-first birthday party must have been quite the shin-dig, though she hardly remembered it just now.
But it wasn't actually her head that was throbbing.... No, it was the pillow. A hard cold, wretched pillow which forced her head at an odd angle was vibrating at some painful frequency.
It was only then that she realized that she laying across a railroad track.
And there was clearly a train coming.
She opened her eyes and tried to sit up, but she could not. She was wrapped up in some sort of cloak that smelled faintly of gardenias. She wriggled, but could not get loose of it. As far as she could tell, she was not tied, merely so well wrapped that she could hardly move.
The engine was now clearly audible, and not far. The vibration of the track was nearly unbearable. She lifted her head and tried to roll, hoping to unwrap the cloak, but it did nothing for her.
It was dark, but she could make out the shape of trees and tracks in the moonlight, and now the light of the train shone down on the tracks, picking up details of the gravel and ties. It was coming fast, perhaps an express. No sound of the horn. No squeal of breaks. No indication that they could see her.
The sound and vibration was now overwhelming, and no logic could fight the sudden, immediate urge to get out.
She curled her body up and then rocked back, so she could kick her feet up in the air and make a backwards somersault. It didn't move her entirely off the tracks, but she was in a better position to flop and gyrate like an acrobatic inch worm.
By now the noise was so loud it was disorienting. She didn't know which way was up, or which direction to roll. For a moment she thought she'd been struck by the train, as he felt her body tossed and bumped and thrown about.
... But it was merely that she'd made it off the tracks and tumbled down a rather steep embankment.
The train roared by overhead, and she lay breathless and shaken for several minutes.
She was now free of the cloak. It had caught on a stump halfway down the embankment and she had rolled free of it.
The train was now gone. She could still hear the engine in the distance, but by contrast to its passing, the earth seemed suddenly still. She propped herself up, hands braced behind her.
"That, my dear, was a very close call," she said.
Her shaken voice sounded thin and reedy in the hollow darkness around her, though loud enough that she wished she hadn't spoken aloud. That perhaps she didn't want to be heard. Which was nonsense. She should be screaming for help...
Except for that nagging question: How on earth had she come to be laying on a train track, unconscious and helplessly wrapped in that cloak?
A thousand romantic scenarios flitted through Plink's head, most of them involving burly men with nefarious intentions. She didn't know any such men, certainly none with a motive to murder her. She knew no one with a motive to murder her, except perhaps for Freddie, her cousin and heir and would-be fiance -- who was neither burly nor imaginative. If he'd had a plot to kill her, it would be by smothering her in boring declarations of his insipid opinions.
The other scenarios were of poor, helpless, amnesiac women, wandering helplessly and hopelessly in the wood, who become entangled in their own tattered cloak and fall unconscious into some perilous situation, like onto a high ledge or railroad track.
And that was ridiculous because she had no reason whatsoever to be wandering helpless in the wood, and she certainly didn't have amnesia. She knew exactly who she was.
Reading from top to bottom, she was: Lady Pauline Anne Marie Tritt-Woolsey Beethingham Smythe, the eighteenth Baron of Beethingham. (Or the third Baroness of Beethingham, if you wanted to be very literal.)
She had just turned twenty-one, and come into her full fortune and title that very day. She had no reason whatsoever to wander helplessly in the wood, tripping pathetically in her cloak. She was not abandonned, or deceived, nor did she have a love child or dread disease.
And besides, the cloak had been too well wrapped around her for it to have been an accidental entanglement.
Burly men with nefarious intentions it was, then.
Well, they were gone now -- because surely, if they were waiting around in the cold and dark to be sure their deed was done, they would have checked on her by now. All the same, they might come back.
It was time, she thought, to make a hasty exit.
Stay Tuned For Episode 2 - "Meanwhile, Back at Beethingham Hall...."
(To Appear after 8am EST Thursday, May 9)
(To Appear after 8am EST Thursday, May 9)
Note! This story is currently unfinished. I hope to get back to it in 2014.
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