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Penny

by Jane Melody 11 months ago in Short Story

The Ruby Amulet and 8th Wonder of the World

She stepped out of the elevator and onto the concrete. The heat waved across her. A few paces away her car sizzled in the sun. Her heels echoed across the empty garage. She reached for the handle. The heat that drew out of the car as she opened the door felt twelve degrees hotter than the air outside. She waited a moment, then slid in. She started the car. The thermometer on the dash read 112 degrees. She turned on the air conditioner and waited.

“It’s a screaming in your face 108 degrees outside and if you're out there...well don’t be. This next one is for all you construction workers out there taking on that monster of a heatwave. I am Jonny B. Good and you are listening to KWAX 94.5” The DJ hit the play button. Glen Fry’s The Heat is on pumped through the speakers.

Soon the cool air reached her face. The condenser clicked and the car settled into its mechanics. The reflection of her sunglasses peered back at her as she looked in the rear view mirror and put the car in reverse. She pulled out of the parking garage onto the tree lined street so grateful for the shade of the trees. The license plate on her car read PENYLAN.

Penny wiped her brow. She started to sweat. But it wasn’t from the heat. The air conditioner had cooled the car to a temperate wash of flowing air. She started to feel flushed. She pressed the back of her hand to her cheek. It felt moist and warm. But it was too hard for her to tell if it was the pounding 108 degrees, or something else. Her car swerved around the bend.

The shade of the trees whirred passed her like long shadows stretching out to touch her with their cooling shade just to be replaced by the blinding sun again. The light blinked in her eyes as the tires moved her forward through this shadowy tag. The swerve of the car lulled her mind as she thought about everything that had happened.

Her internal heat made her uncomfortable in her own clothes. She unbuttoned her top button. Her shirt was stuck to her skin. Everything in the car was still hot. She pulled out a face wipe but the scratchy warm surface was more uncomfortable than soothing. She put the cloth between her hand and the steering wheel. The cloth drew the steering wheel heat into it. Penny could almost sense steam between the palm of her hand and the cloth.

Her shirt became uncomfortable and scratchy around the collar. She rubbed the back of her neck with her other hand and swung the wheel around another corner. She would be home soon and couldn’t wait to get out of her clothes as they clung to her like damp wool. She thought about running a cool bath. Thought about the relief of her toe touching the water. She could almost feel the relief running up her body like a cool shadow.

She made one last turn into the carport. She turned the key to the off position. The car clicked as the heat began to disburse and the metal released the engine's heat. Penny opened the door. She grudgingly got out of the car and made her way up the stairs to her apartment. Her head swooned. She wiped her brow with the cloth she still had in her hand. The sound of her key in the lock magnified in her ears. The deadbolt clicked as it reluctantly pushed aside to let her in. A long shadow of the drawn shades was cut with heat of the piercing sun. She stepped inside and quickly shut the door behind her.

The refrigerator clicked on. Penny opened the kitchen cardboard, took a glass from the shelf and walked to the freezer. A rush of cold air washed over her face. Her damp face beaded with sweat. Chills rushed down her spine and across her body. For a moment she felt better. She filled her glass with ice. Every clink of ice in her glass became a soothing sound. She went to the refrigerator. Her tongue thirsted for the slow trickle of water. Her mouth felt unusually dry as her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth while she waited for the water.

Shadow weaved between her feet and purred.

“Hello my little love,” she knelt down and poured water into the cat’s water dish. The ice clinked in the glass as it resettled. She drank it down and refilled it. Her mouth was parched. Her teeth ached and her head was getting woosy. The sound of the ice magnified in her ears as it settled further down in the glass. She filled the glass again with more ice and water. The clinking of the ice in her ears pounded in her head. Penny let the water flow over her lips and quench her tongue.

The shadows of the dark room were inviting her deeper into the house. She began to shed her clothes as she headed to the bathroom. The bathroom light burned her eyes and she had to squint as she began to run the bath water. The handles squeaked like shards ripping through her ears. She stood to get more water.

As she crossed the floor her glass slipped from her weak fingers. She bent down to pick up the pieces. Gravity seemed to pull her into the ground like an invisible magnet. Penny slumped to the floor. She could feel her nose running. She tried to wipe her nose with the back of her hand but her muscles tensed and froze. Her jaw clenched and she could hear her teeth cracking. Penny tried to lift her head with her hands. It felt like a lead weight. Her hand slipped. Her flesh ran over a shard of glass splitting her skin. She began to shake.

Penny’s eyes searched the room. The shadows of light and darkness threw themselves across the floor and up the walls with distorted shapes, as the outside heat pounded on the outside of the windows. But the cool dark stiff air of the apartment inside stood firm defending Penny’s ground.

“Meow,” Shadow nudged her with encouragement. But Penny was limp. A shaking hand wiped her nose that became stained with blood. She shook at the sight of it.

“No. Oh God please no.” She whispered through her lips.

Darkness tunneled her vision. Shadow became a distant image. Her eyes felt dry enough to bleed and crack. They fluttered closed.

A light flickered. Her eyes followed it’s gentle sway. A glint. A familiar glint. She saw the blood red color.

“Penny?” The image faded.

The cabinet drawer slammed. She set the file on the desk. The tab read “New City.” Penny scanned the words with her eyes. “Homeless population will be moved to a safer area outside the city limits…” she faded. “Experiments will take place on National events at full capacity. Staff will be present to care of patients.” Was that an accident? She flipped the page. It showed the land plans. She realized that the discrepancy was elevated by them and if she wanted to save anyone she would have to bridge the disparity at any cost. She faded.

“... 89MM extended to project from the following government organizations: city, state and federal. We also feel local governments would benefit from research originating by the following: psychological, physiological, medical, environmental and economic reasons.”

The light gleamed at her again. She saw gold spun before her eyes. She saw shadows of blood red dancing before her. It sung and Penny saw her own reflection with copper red hair laying in a cool breeze while the shadows of night clung to her. “Penny?”

The gold glimmered in her eyes. It spun around and danced like skylight and stardust. “Penny!”

“Yes Sir?”

“My wife is coming to dinner. Make sure arrangements are taken care of.”

“Yes, Sir.” She turned. “What time Sir?”

“7:30.” He turned. “Make it 8:00.”

The gold made her blink.

Penny felt something wet on her lips. “Penny.”

The water touched her toe.

“Penny.”

The water rose and infiltrated her senses. Bribed. Lethal backing by physicians. She blinked. Penny blinked.

Penny picked up the phone. “Yes, can I reserve a table for two? 8:00 o’clock.”

Penny saw James’s Face. “Listen, we have to talk about the new facility. But I can’t do it here. Let’s go out to dinner.” He held her hand in his. She could see all the tenderness in his eyes. He was a miraculous man with a heart of gold. He had become head assistant physician at the hospital. “This is diabolical.” He kissed her hands. His face faded away. She saw the glint of gold.

She looked at the clock. 6:30PM. The phone rang.

“Yes Sir?”

“If Frank calls, put the call through.”

“Yes Sir.”

The necklace swung in front of her. The red ruby heart spun on a spindle in the golden enclosure.

James’s hand thrust a document into hers, “When I was studying reconstructive surgery I wrote this paper” She unrolled it. The front page read: The psychosis and psychology of the efforts and the karmic or religious effects. “It’s a paper that describes the harmful effects of doctors taking advantage of their patients. It explains how much thought, time and effort goes into it, and the harmful effects on society. These are people who abuse their power and their responsibility to mankind.” The scroll of paper vanished.

“Due to the infectious disease control report the population will be moved to a more isolated area.” She closed the folder and put it away. She looked at the clock. 7:03. The phone rang.

“Hello this is Frank.”

“Oh yes Sir. He has been expecting you. Let me patch you through.”

“Frank is on the line Sir.”

“Perfect put him through.”

“I will be leaving then Sir.”

“Very well, good night.”

Penny patched Frank through. She cleaned up her desk, logged off her computer and stood up. She could see the hall in front of her, but then it faded.

Penny felt something wet on her finger.

“A 2547 B.C. amulet and golden panels dated from 1690-1777 believed to be part of the Amber Room from the Russian dynasty of Catherine. Cash contributions of auction sales will be donated to the New Project. Sales proceeds will accept payment in the form of city bonds, state bonds, cash, gold bonds, electric currency, and deliverable bonds with futures and options.” She opened the blue velvet box. Inside was a golden heart shaped necklace with the most brilliant red ruby gently laying on light blue silk. The necklace swung in front of her eyes. The gold light.

Penny stirred.

She could see James. He held her hands and looked at her from across the table. “There is something in the water. Not here, but down there. The effects are being tracked.”

The waiter came to the table. “Can I get you something to start? Drinks perhaps?”

“Yes two waters. And I will have a glass of wine.”

She was a witness

“Anyone who speaks out will be drugged. Rest assured; there will be no problems.” Frank’s voice was clear to her. “The auction runs tomorrow?”

“Yes, tomorrow at 3:00.” Penny’s boss was standing at the elevator. She saw Frank’s hand on his shoulder in assurance. James paused. She paused and took her keys out of her purse.

“Oh hello Sir. Going down?”

She could feel her body being lifted. The elevator came to a stop. She felt the water touch the bleeding cut on her hand. She felt the heat of the sun on her face. Shadows of light changed into golden light. James presented her with the amulet. “A token of beauty and love so I will always be with you no matter how near or far.”

Short Story

About the author

Jane Melody

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