Monthly Shorts

Story Chain

The Story Chain was set in motion by Dian Bowers, founding member of Wordsmiths Alliston and this idea of hers, proved to be very popular amongst the writers. In this challenge, our first story of the series, the participants were divided into three groups. The story was written by 13 authors in total, (each one only aware of the previous chapter) and used limited information to craft their part of the story.

When you take part, you can direct the story whether or not it is established. So, sway it in the direction of your own imaginings…when you have the control that is. But if you are not the last in line be ready… it may not have the ending you imagined.

If you are intrigued and might be interested in a challenge of this kind, let us know. We had lots of fun crafting the stories.

The prompt for this story chain is: “She opened the kitchen door, as she did a wave of fear swept over her.”

The second story in this chain will be presented in four chapters over the next four weeks and written by these authors:

Chapter 1 -Erin Frey, Chapter 2 – Mary Penner, Chapter 3 – Brenda Short, Chapter 4 – Tammy Tipler-Priolo

The title is…

Helen and Jim: Chapter Two

by Mary Penner

Photo by Javon Swaby on

They always kept the car parked several blocks away in a quiet area of town, just in case. She opened it and placed her bag inside. Settling into the driver’s seat, she drove five miles to the next town, stopping at the small bank. Calmly, she entered and told the teller she wished to open her safety deposit box. Retrieving the contents, she left the bank, knowing she had to put some distance between her and this area.                                                                                                                                                 

       She stayed on the back roads but soon had a sudden urge to pull over to the side. The tears came like rain and she sobbed uncontrollably. She felt empty and alone, as the terrifying image of Nigel’s face and last words were burned into her memory.

How he lay dying and still trying to protect her with these last few words. “Helen. Run. Poison.” As she desperately attempted to help, he whispered, “..can’t stay.” Those people were after them again and they were relentless.                                                  

      Many times, she and Nigel talked about the endless possibilities of how it would all play out, and now it had happened. ‘Helen, keep it together,’ she admonished herself. ‘Remember the plan.’ With her new burner phone, she called Anderson, then Jim, alerting them. They would meet at the usual place. Drying her tears and taking a deep breath, she settled in for five hours to reach her destination. 

        While driving, her mind wandered back to the time she and Nigel had met. They both had jobs at a Casino in Las Vegas and were instantly attracted to one another. Nigel had worked his way up to being a pit boss. He oversaw several gaming tables and was responsible for all monies collected.

      She was a teller, much preferring that position, even though she had been offered work on the tables. There were many “regulars” who patronized the casino daily and weekly. Out on the floor, it was inevitable to run into some “bad dudes’ and “bad losers.” She felt safer working in “the cage” as employees called it. Often Nigel and she were on the same shift and met whenever they could for a coffee or a meal.

     Nearly a year had passed and they finally moved in together and planned to get married. The wedding was held in the chapel at the casino, with friends and fellow workers attending. It was a grand affair! They enjoyed a weeklong honeymoon and returned to work.

      The weeks and months flew by as they usually do while working in a casino. It is a busy place at most times of the year, especially on holidays and weekends. They began talking about buying a house and having children. Both looked forward to seeing their future plans come to fruition.  

      Not all went well at times in the casino, especially when sore losers caused a commotion. They accused the casino of cheating and taking advantage. Some were extremely nasty and the casino had no choice but to call the police. On the other side of it all, there was the odd dealer who did play dirty, allowing a favorite patron to win. He or she took a cut of the patron’s profit later.                                           

      Helen began to recall when the nightmare began for her and Nigel, turning their lives completely upside down. Glancing at the time, she realized she was minutes away from meeting Andersen and Jim. Sitting upright, she focused on the present. She placed a hand on her purse. She felt both the gun and ready for whatever happened next.

You can follow these stories and any previous chapters in the ‘Archives’ section under ‘Story Chains’

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