Mar 2, 2012

Posted by in Books | 6 Comments

The Doorknob Society Chapter 1

The Doorknob Society Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Status: My so-called life.

“This is a dumb idea,” I said more for my own benefit than anyone else. It’s not as if someone could hear me from where I stood… on the ledge of a building in Paris at three o’clock in the morning.

I moved quickly along the edge a stiff breeze suddenly whipping up and shoving me against the cool stone. My palms hit flat against the building while my fingers deftly searched for grooves in the stonework. It was a narrow hold but I held tight until the wind died down. I snuck a glance over the edge to the street five stories below. Tomorrow’s headlines flashed in mind, Sixteen-Year-Old American Plunges To Her Death. I shook my head and cleared the image from my thoughts. I controlled my breathing and inhaled through my nose and exhaled slowly through my mouth like Dad had taught me. Focus on the next step Chloe not the end game, I told myself and edged along calmly. Most girls my age wouldn’t be used to standing on such a small space high in the air. Then again most girls weren’t the daughter of the “Master Magician”.

My dad was one of the most in-demand magicians around the world, known best for his disappearing-man trick. He would walk through one door and appear instantaneously in another across the stage. It was the only illusion he hadn’t taught me. My parents had started training me in every trick in their act since I was able to walk. While most girls were playing with Barbie I was learning how to do the drowned-man trick in my kiddy pool. When mom had abandoned us ten years back, I had taken her place helping Dad prepare for shows. Not that it hadn’t been helpful, I mean, how else would I have been able to scale up the side of the building and across the ledge?

Once the wind no longer threatened I continued along until I finally reached the office window I was looking for and carefully turned my back to it. I slid my hand into the bag slung over my shoulder and pulled out a device I had lifted from Dad’s work bag. I’d seen him use it a million times and knew I could handle it.

With a tight grip on the metal crossbar; I turned around, yanked it lengthwise, and pushed it against the glass. Two small suction cups popped against the window fitting the bar tightly to the glass. I tapped the control button twice. A thin line of what looked like fishing wire shot out and spun around in a circle cutting a hole in the window. The wire acted like a web and the glass slowly fell backward till it was lying on the office floor.

I ducked under the bar and hopped from the ledge into the office. Dad and I had been here just yesterday when a woman with the largest mole on her chin I had ever seen confiscated our passports. She refused to tell Dad what it was about and we’d been ushered out of the room quickly. Dad had told me not to worry, but the huskiness in his voice told me differently. He had spent the entire day and night on the phone trying to get an answer as to why we were unable to leaveFrance.

This afternoon I was sitting in the hotel room playing with my smart phone when I heard Dad screaming. I snuck to his door and listened as he yelled at whoever was on the other end.

“They aren’t allowing us to leave. What the hell is going on?”

I could hear him pacing on the carpet as he listened to the response and whatever was said didn’t make him happy.

“What is that supposed to mean? I’m not going to risk Chloe is that clear; you come here and get her if you have too. I don’t care what happens to me.”

I heard the phone slam down on the receiver and quickly made my way back to my room. That’s when I made the choice that tonight I was getting our passports back and getting us out of Paris, together.

I moved quickly to the large desk that dominated the room and yanked open drawers. Not finding the documents I needed, I moved on to the next drawer and came up empty again.

I rushed through each drawer, my search turning frantic with each fruitless attempt. On the last one I pushed aside more useless papers and broke into a wide grin as I snatched up what I’d been searching for.

I kissed the two battered passports. “Home at last.” I slid them into my pocket, patting them for good measure. “Now maybe we can get out of here.”

I walked back to the window, gripped the bar and hoisted myself up when I heard shouts from below. I looked over the edge and saw a multitude of police cars surrounding the entrance to the building. Officers were jumping out and rushing toward the front doors. I caught a few words, glad I had a passable knowledge of French and what I heard chilled me. I’d tripped the silent alarm.

“Damn.” I pulled back from the window and grabbed the bar pushing the control lever and releasing it from the glass and slid it back into my bag.

I figured there would be an alarm though I didn’t count on a silent one. My plan had had me back out the window and across the ledge to the building next door before the cops ever arrived. Somehow it seemed my plans always went astray. Now what?

Run.

I followed my own warning and ran out of the office into a larger room with dozens of cubicles. I knew the layout of the building as well as most people who worked here. If my parents had taught me anything it was to be prepared. Before I came here tonight I’d studied the floor plans online. It didn’t hurt that since I had been little Dad had me play a game called find the door. Any place we entered he would always make me memorize where every door was located. We’d done it so often it had become second nature. My research had been worth it because I knew there was a back stairwell that led to the alleyway behind the building. If I could get there I should be able to hop the fence and make my way back to the hotel.
I poured on as much speed as I could, exited into the main hallway and at the far end were the elevator doors. The ding of the lift reaching the floor echoed loudly and I spun around not waiting to see who it was and ran in the opposite direction.

The police shouted for me to stop but I ignored them, though the sounds of their feet slapping the floor as they bored down on me made me run harder. I turned down another hallway, not losing a step or speed. Mom was a runner and she had gotten me into it when I was small. No matter where Dad’s act took us, mom would always go for her morning run. Memories of running alongside the Nile River in Egypt and the Great Wall of China were just a few of the wonderful places we’d run together. Of course, that was before she’d deserted us, now I only run when there’s trouble.

Relief washed over me when I spotted the stairwell door at the end of the corridor. The cops’ voices grew louder but it didn’t matter, I was confident I was home free. I was too quick on my feet for them; they would never catch me. I slammed into the door grabbing the knob and my heart sank as I turned it… locked.

My heart pounded in my chest. The cops would be on me any minute. My mind raced and I twisted the knob as hard as I could, hoping by sheer force of will I could turn it and get out of there. My stomach turned and a wave of nausea rushed over me. I thought for sure I was about to barf. Then the hair on my neck and arms stood on end and my vision went fuzzy as everything around me took on a blue glow. All I could think about was Dad and how upset he was going to be with me. I was going to get arrested and go to jail and we would never get out of this damn country.

I heard a click and the knob felt as if it suddenly turned. The next thing I knew I was floating. I no longer cared about the cops or the passports or anything. I was warm and whole and then everything went black as I fell forward.

“Chloe!”

Dad’s voice shattered my peaceful sleep and I blinked forcing myself awake and found myself lying on the floor of our hotel room. Dad stood peering down at me and he didn’t look happy.

“Must have tripped.” I scrambled to my feet and shook my head. I don’t know what happened but somehow I had gotten back to our hotel room. Maybe it had all been a dream; maybe I had imagined sneaking out to steal back our confiscated passports. It wouldn’t be the first time I had a crazy dream.

“What did you do?” Dad was giving me his best stern-Dad face.

“Nothing.” My hand drifted to my pocket and I could feel the outline of the passports. Dad’s eyes followed my hand and lingered there. “What’s in your pocket?”

“I had to try.”

“What did you do?”

I pulled the passports from my pocket.

He sighed and rolled his eyes.

“What? It’s not like I got caught.”

“Chloe, do you have any idea how dangerous that was? You could have been caught or worse.”

“But I wasn’t. I got our passports back and got away.” I wasn’t sure how I had managed it. I didn’t even remember leaving the building or anything. I racked my brain trying to make sense of it. The last thing I remembered was fighting to get that damn doorknob to turn.

“What is it?” Dad asked his annoyed changing to one I’d never seen before.

“Nothing,” —I shook my head trying to clear my mind— “it’s just that I’m not really sure how I got away. I mean the door was locked.”

“What do you mean it was locked?”

“It’s no big deal. I must have been wrong.”

Dad paced back and forth and looked like he might wear a hole in the carpet. He stopped, his eyes lingering on me as he snatched the passports from my hand.

“We’re leaving now. Get your things.” He turned and stormed off to his room.

“You’re welcome,” I sighed and rushed to my room grabbing my travel bags. I’d been packed for three days ever since this whole fiasco had begun. It wasn’t the first time Dad and I have been stranded in a foreign country during one of his tours, but this time it had been different. Dad was nervous, not a common condition for him. And we had been given no reason as to why our passports had been confiscated. The officials who took them had told us that we weren’t allowed to leave the country. It made no sense and coupled with Dad’s obvious unease, it made me worry.

I slung my bags over my shoulder and walked back into the shared living space to find Dad clutching his duffle bag.

“That was quick,” he said, though looked relieved. I knew he wanted to get out of there ASAP and so did I.

“We’re heading to the airport. No stops and no lip either.”

I rolled my eyes at his back as we left the hotel room. We walked down the narrow corridor and stopped by the series of elevator doors.

Dad was shifting from one foot to the other and kept pushing the down button even though it was lit. I didn’t say anything remembering that he’d warned about giving him lip.

The hotel seemed warmer than usual. I tugged at my hoodie and wished I had thrown it in my bag. Dad had stopped pushing the button and was stepping back slowly and that’s when I felt the hair on my neck rise and stand on-end. My stomach twisted in knots and a wave of nausea washed over me and I stumbled trying to keep my balance.

Dad’s arm wrapped around me and relief flooded me… until I looked up and saw his eyes narrow and stare straight ahead. My skin heated and prickled as I followed his gaze to the stairwell door and realized that I must be getting sick since the door appeared as if it was glowing.

Dad and I jumped when the door swung open and a gust of warm stale air rushed into the room blowing my hoodie off my head. The feeling in my gut doubled and Dad’s arm squeezed tighter around me.

“You should have stayed off the radar, Masters. Not using your powers kept us from locating you. We had no idea where you were.”

A dark figure surrounded by a crimson halo stepped through the doorway. The tips of my fingers went numb and the earth felt as if it was moving beneath my feet. Everything came into sharp focus around me, my senses suddenly alive with new input. The azure glow around the door shimmered and pulsated as if with life. The faint odor of smoke drifted in from behind the man.

Dad glanced down at me and by the look in his eyes, I knew this was bad… really bad.

He spun me around and yelled, “Run!”

I didn’t hesitate… I ran.

The stale odor followed us so close I could taste it. It made me gag and I knew something bad was about to happen. The explosion threw me into the wall, my shoulder slamming into it with such force that it spun me around. Smoke and flames filled the hall and I coughed trying to clear my throat. I rubbed my eyes looking harder to try and catch a glimpse of Dad, cursing myself for leaving him to face a crazy man alone.

The smoke parted and suddenly Dad was racing toward me. I had no time to feel relief that my dad was alive, his hand reached out grabbing me and dragging me along as we bolted down the hallway. The corridor split into a T and we turned right and kept running, stopping at a maintenance door. Dad looked behind him and then back to the door in front of him. He reached his hand out toward the knob and my stomach churned again.

“I don’t think hiding in a closet is going to help, Dad.”

I closed my eyes trying to blot out the nausea that was growing stronger by the minute. I wanted to smack myself. I mean come on, I’ve traveled the globe, assisted my dad in some of the most dangerous illusions around and tonight I had walked along the edge of a multi-story building and yet an explosion and crazy man chasing us and I wilt like a flower? Not cool.

I opened my eyes ready to face and survive our ordeal when my surroundings shifted again. Now instead of shimmering red, everything glowed soft blue. Dad had already opened the door and the room beyond seemed to swirl and shift in colors and change until it looked almost familiar to me. I was thinking how comforting that was right up until I fell flat on my face.

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  1. May Girl says:

    Love it!

  2. I’ll most likely put up Chapter one of the Impossible Engineers before it comes out as well.

  3. Loved your book. Honestly, it’s one of the best I’ve read in ages.

  4. linda pfeifer says:

    Loved it and am eagerly awaiting your next book. Congratulations. Your book was different than your Moms but just as good!!!

    • Thank you Linda. It won’t be long of a wait as it will be out in the next week. Very excited and thanks for reading.

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