The final installment of Chuck's "200 Words at a time" challenge. My three favorite stories were "Apocalyptic Bounty Hunter," "Making Merry," and the story of Alice. Chuck allowed us to finish a story we already participated in and since no one picked up "Madison," I finished up Alice's story. Initially, I had written about 400 words, but cut it down to 225. The final word count is 1,089. Font color indicates contributes and here are some links:
The lecture theatre door slammed shut with a bang so loud half the room jumped in their seat. Alice descended the stairs, not oblivious to the 200 pairs of indignant eyes boring through her, and took the only available seat at the front of the class.
Professor Gordon Kane stood at the lectern and looked over the top his glasses at her. “Welcome Miss Turner, what a remarkable entrance. I was just about to introduce my colleague to your classmates, may I continue?”
Alice’s face burned so hard she thought her hair might catch fire.
Kane gestured toward a tall man wearing a green turtleneck and a tweed jacket with leather patches at the elbows. “I expect that many of you will recognize our guest,” he said.
She recognized him immediately; in fact, he was the very reason she was late for class.
“His book, Changing Minds, has spent the last six months perched at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list, his television show of the same name has surprised and delighted audiences around the world and we are very fortunate to have him here today. It is, therefore, my very great privilege to introduce Dr. Lucas Spencer.”
The room erupted into deafening applause. Dr. Spencer moved to the lectern and held up his right hand. “Thank you, Gordon. Thank you, everyone,” he said. “I’d like to ask for five volunteers.”
Alice’s hand rocketed upward. She willed with all her being that he choose her. She didn’t want to look too desperate, but she had to be chosen. Dr. Spencer looked around the room and his eyes locked briefly with hers. She hoped her loud entrance was enough to get on stage. The blast radius was only five feet, so she had to be in his “bubble.”
Dr. Spencer chose a diverse group of volunteers. Different ethnicities and social standing, but they were all male. Alice wondered if she had chosen the wrong gender. After four of her classmates made their way to the stage, Dr. Spencer looked at her and smiled.
“Alice, please join us on stage.”
Alice glanced at the watch covering the scar on her wrist. She had worked hard to show her peers she was just like the rest of them.
If they only knew, she thought as she ascended the steps to the stage. It was almost time–her purpose on this world had almost reached fruition. Dr. Spencer greeted each volunteer with a hearty handshake. That would be her moment.
The room was awash with hundreds of conversations, but she focused on only Dr. Spencer.
Alice took her place at the far side of the stage. She let her gaze bounce, never settling on Dr. Spencer for too long. Her fingers kept reaching for the watch, pinching the links of the band together and then smoothing them.
Adrenaline disguised as nervous fidgeting.
Sweat trickled down Alice’s neck as he shook the hand of third boy he’d chosen and she resisted the urge to squirm. Dr. Spencer was close enough now that she could feel the edges of the psychic field. She prayed her modified suppressors would hold.
Dr. Spencer took the hand of the boy standing next to her. “Don’t be nervous,” he said, his quiet voice modulated to be smooth and enticing. “There’s nothing to worry about. Not anymore.” Dr. Spencer smiled and the boy smiled back, his eyes glazing under the attack.
Dr. Spencer dropped his hand and took a step toward Alice. Then another.
So close now.
Her heart pounded. Her fingers twisted the watchband one more time. Positioning the detonator under her thumb.
Dr. Spencer took the final step and held out his hand.
Alice took a breath, tried to pull her lips into a smile, and pressed the button.
Nothing happened. Dr. Spencer stood there with his hand out, his lips began to curve upward as his eyes twinkled.
“Aren’t you going to shake my hand, Alice?”
Alice looked down at the watch as her already pounding heart picked up the pace. She was pressing her own naked wrist bone. Her eyes flicked up to find the watch dangling from Dr. Spencer’s finger. Oh crap, the suppressors weren’t working.
“A fine piece of craftsmanship,” he said, giving the watch a mocking swing. “I take it you have strong opinions about my work?”
Alice suppressed a shiver as sweat began to soak through her shirt, chilling her skin on the drafty stage.
“I have strong opinions about slavery, sir,” she grated through clenched teeth. Her equipment hadn’t failed her entirely. She could still think, but could she act?
Dr. Kane cleared his throat. “So…ah, if we can get started…” he began. Alice registered the confusion in his voice and the growing tension in the room.
Okay, the bomb wasn’t happening, but she still had the semi-auto Colt in the small of her back. Spencer was trapped in this body for now. If she could blow a few holes in his head it would be over.
Her hand slid around her slim waist and she struggled to hide a surge of relief as she grasped the gun and pulled it free.
The watch was a decoy of sorts. The real suppressor was subcutaneous, and the watch was the amplifier. As he held it, it amplified his powers, trapping him once and for all.
Alice raised the colt and stared into the confused eyes of Dr. Spencer. The device embedded in her wrist burned as Dr. Spencer attempted to sway her actions.
Dr. Spencer's hold on the audience began to falter. He would need to release the members of the audience to focus his control on Alice and the assembled victims on the stage. Alice felt her resolve fail as the implant embedded in her wrist burned. She knew at that moment that this was her end.
She struggled against her own body as she pressed the colt against her breast. Dr. Spencer smiled. Alice felt her trigger finger move and she said aloud, "You will lose!"
Dr. Spencer retorted, "My dear, I will always win."
Alice knew she had to have the full power of Dr. Spencer focused on her. She knew it was time and allowed herself to succumb to him. Just before she pulled the trigger, she saw the boy he greeted before her. As he pulled the trigger on his own colt, aimed at Dr. Spencer, she saw a scar on his wrist matching her own.
Then she saw only blackness.