Thursday, January 10, 2013

Week Two: Write at the Merge Balloons and Nirvana Challenge

Write at the Merge was introduced last week, replacing the old Red Writing Hood format for prompts. This week we were challenged with a photo taken in Turkey of a group of hot-air balloons in the shadow of a setting sun, and the unplugged version of Nirvana's Plateau. The picture inspired my location this week, and the song lyrics made me think of a desert cemetery. Before you ask, no, I don't know why. I have no idea if that was the intent of the song-writer. I can't say I've ever really listened to Nirvana. That band wasn't on my list of "had to have".

This week I return to Ivy's campaign to rescue Mitch. We last met her at an art gallery in Washington, D.C. She's currently following leads and going on wild-goose-chases, discovering that this conspiracy cuts deeper than she ever thought possible.

I offer the following in response: A Phrygian Market

Hot-air balloons hung above the desert plateau against the Phrygian twilight, like ink-blots floating on orange vellum. Jet-lagged and out of her element, Ivy followed incomplete directions from her hotel through the park to the marketplace. Pausing in the lingering heat to catch her bearings, she compared her map to the mosque-dominated skyline. She double-backed a block and turned at the old cemetery, walking south beyond the planted dead waiting for resurrection. The marketplace appeared at the edge of a centuries-old apartment row; its banners bright as balloons against ancient masonry.

She wormed her way through the crowded bazaar booths, her lungs struggling to process the foreign air heavily laden with unfamiliar spices and body odors. Strange languages resembled nothing more than spoken gibberish to her ears. She felt like a pinball in an arcade game, jostled off shoulders and displays, alone in a sea of human kickers and slingshots.

“You like this rug? You want to buy this rug?” a monger blockaded her way with a red paisley carpet.

“No thank you,” she replied, barely registering the questions were in English. She tried to push by, but the man didn’t budge.

He forced eye contact. “You want to buy, Ivy Tanner.”

She stopped; a deathly chill gripped her soul. “You know me?”

There were large, toothless gaps in his smile. “We have mutual friends,” he whispered. “Perhaps you would prefer a green one?”

Ivy eyed him with suspicion. Every fiber in her being screamed trap. Still, she replied, “Or blue?”

He waived her inside his shop, “Yes, yes, come! I have more inside. You come pick. I give you good price.”

The world outside was locked away and she was ensnared in the stale darkness of the tiniest commercial threshold she ever crossed. “Look Pal, my embassy knows where I am. If I don’t return by-“

A humorless, inhuman laugh slithered from the shadows. “Miss Tanner, fear not. We have no interest in your death.” A shape stepped into the meager light.

Shit! Her breath caught in her lungs. The man was in the pictures she smuggled from the nightmare of Equator, the village in the shadow of Volcano Wolf of Isabela Island. “I’m leaving,” she snapped. “I’m in no mood for games.”

He gripped her arm as she turned to the door. “I want what you want, Miss Tanner.”

“What I want is to be out there and away from you. Just who are you anyway?”

“Lou Marston,” he let her go. "I believe we can help each other."

 “I don't require help, least of all from you.”

"Perhaps," he rubbed his chin, "but I know you're looking for Mitch. I happen to be as well. We could pool our efforts, Miss Tanner."

Her stomach plummeted as she assessed her situation. The door behind her represented her hope for freedom: out of reach and closed.


  1. The opening two paragraphs to this are brilliant,visceral,smokey,sexy and a little scary made the last line really hum.

    1. Thanks! I hoped for that effect, I'm glad to know it worked out.

      I hope you enjoyed your visit. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  2. "like ink-blots floating on orange vellum"

    Holy cow, Shel. I wish I'd written that. Love the tension in this thriller series, and Ivy gets more and more interesting with every chapter...


    1. Thanks! That's a compliment I'll cherish. :) I'm happy to know that I'm getting a good balance between tension and character development.

      I'm glad you enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!