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Solitaire ~ Chapter Two

by LadyTano


The Black Jack of Clubs

Tonight the sky is splashed with shades of pink and gold like watercolors from an artist’s brush. A cool breeze from the north greets me along with the coyotes’ howls as I walk along my familiar path through the desert. The scent of desert lavender with a hint of sage tingle my nose.

As I walk, images flash through my mind. First the threats, then the disappearance, then the deaths. That’s how my life came crashing down around me, now a pile of ash and rubble at my feet. There was nothing I could have done to stop it, and at this point, there is nothing I can do anymore. I am exiled to stay in this desert forever. But it was my choice, I had to get away, I just couldn’t stay anymore.

My footsteps become so weary I have to stop, so I sit on top of a nearby boulder, about three feet off the ground. I fiddle with the small old-fashioned silver key around my neck, and I am so deeply buried in my thoughts, that at first, I don’t see a fox poke her head out of a hole in the ground. After a few wary glances left and right, she steps out of the den. Five little kits tumble out after her. The kits resemble their mother almost exactly, with the mother’s coat a darker more mature tan and the kits lighter, almost white.

The sight of the fox with her kits brings tears to my eyes. As I watch the mother fox carefully nudge her kits back into the safety of the den, I’m reminded of my own mother. She always took care of me and protected me from the darkness of the world.

Little that does me now, I think almost wistfully. I hate to admit it, but I’m jealous of these kits’ life. So simple, so sweet, and they are unknowing of the danger that lay beyond their den.

I watch the mother and kits a bit longer, then decide that I’d better get back before night arrives completely. Just as I start to slide off the boulder, I hear a loud howl. The mother fox raises her head and looks around. Another fox approaches the den, and I see he’s carrying a fluffy mass in his mouth. The kits start yipping and running toward the fox. The fox drops his burden, which I now see is a rabbit, in front of the kits before touching noses with the mother.

Another pang of sadness hits my heart. The fox carries himself just like my father did. The fox is proud and stands straight and tall even when the kits tumble around him. He nudges them playfully then runs in circles around them. I think he’s playing with the kits, and I want to laugh and cry at the same time at their game of can’t-catch-me.

I watch the fox family’s antics for a few more minutes until the kits curl up together one by one and fall to sleep. Then I decide to go back to the cottage, even though I may not sleep much tonight.

By the time I reach home, the last of the sun has disappeared behind the blue snow-capped mountains that surround my desert valley.

The floorboards creak softly as I quietly walk through the hall in the old farmhouse to my bedroom. I hear a faint whine and a warm body pressed against my leg. “Be quiet, Moxie,” I say to the old sheepdog. “We don’t want to wake up Viv.”

I switch on the lamp and a faint yellow glow is cast onto my bedroom walls. I change out of my dusty clothes, then I sit on my bed and try to sort through my thoughts and make sense of my life. Moxie seems to sense my discomfort and jumps on my bed and tries to lick my face, but I don’t let her. After failing to raise my spirits, she gives up and curls up on my bed for a nap.

I lay down, with little hopes of good dreams, and sleep claims me. . .

***

I awake with a start to the sound of Viv’s telephone ringing. Glancing at the clock, I realize it’s only 9:00 at night. But who would call at this hour?

I hauled myself out of bed and stumbled sleepily to the telephone in the hall.

“Shire residence,” I answered.

“Is this Alexandra Emmanuel?” A deep voice asked. I nearly dropped the receiver. That voice, I’d heard it before. Tinged with Russian, and unmistakable. I would never forget it.

“What do you want,” I asked coldly, managing to hide the sudden fear I felt.

“Look under your doormat.” My knuckles turned white from gripping the phone.

“W-why?” I managed to say. No answer. I slammed the phone onto the desk and ran to the door.

I cautiously lifted the doormat and snatched up the white envelope under it. Then I slammed the door behind me and bolted it. Turning, with my back against the door, I sunk to the ground. I knew what was inside the envelope, I didn’t have to open it.

But deep down I knew I had to.

The envelope was sealed with deep scarlet wax and stamped with an elaborate J. My hands shook as I pried off the wax.

Inside the envelope was a single playing card.

My heart stopped.

A black jack of clubs.


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5 Reviews


Points: 160
Reviews: 5

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Tue Feb 01, 2022 6:22 pm
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StormyZSnifter wrote a review...



Hello, Hello! Review time!

Oh my goodness... this is awesome. The amount of detail is simply incredible. I am totally looking forward to reading what happens next!

Ok... so first off, with the first paragraphs, the contrast between the beautiful sunset with the whimsical fox family and the reminiscences of the MC's life gone wrong is really interesting to read. The descriptions engage the senses, which is really cool. The first paragraph really creates a clear, vivid picture inside the readers mind which is really successful. I like that this story is still keeping quiet on the sordid details of the backstory. Mixing the poetic descriptions of the gorgeous desert with hints of the backstory is really engaging.

With the introduction of the foxes, I think it sends the message that the character has been deeply, emotionally affected by the various events that have struck her life, as she finds connections to her unfortunate past in the simplest things. This is an empathetic move, and it really makes me feel for her.

The transition from the cozy farmhouse narrative to sudden suspicious activity was accomplished well! I'm very curious indeed to learn who this voice belongs to, and how it connects to Alexandra's past. I feel her tension, and her actions and their descriptions really communicate the sense of urgency well. I like how the sentences get short-that's a good technique to give the writing more impact.

Overall, the writing was really professional, engaging, and mysterious. It was really impressive, and I can't wait to read more!

Best,
Stormy




LadyTano says...


Thanks for the review, Stormy! I'm working on chapter three, it'll be ready soon!



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Fri Jan 28, 2022 1:40 am
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ForeverYoung299 wrote a review...



Hey!! Forever here with a review!!

First of all, I would like to say that I quite enjoyed reading the story. It has a great sense of mystery in it which intrigues the readers to read more and go with the character on a journey to solve the mystery. I have no idea about Batman, so forgive me if I can’t understand the obvious things. Now into the review and what I understood of the story.

So as it seems, this person has a severe remorse and is kind of trying to escape from the past. Probably, that is the reason why she escaped from the city where she used to reside. I don’t know if anything else was responsible for it… Those crimes and poverty… but I feel like her remorse was the main reason behind her leaving the town. Either way, it’s a very sad incident that she mistakenly killed the person who cared for her.

I liked the tone shifting in this chapter. It went from tranquillity to horror. The moments when she saw was watching the fox were soothing to some extent. However, when the phone call came, it suddenly changed to horror. The tranquillity and the relatively slower pace helped to bring out the horror and the fast paced ending of this chapter. I have no idea about the age of this person. I would like to know a bit about it because it helps in imagining the condition the person is in, in a better way(At least for me it is always the case). I don’t need the accurate age but something which will help me to estimate her age.

So as it seems, this person had to go through a lot in her life. Starting from the miserable condition in her city, she indeed had a miserable life. I wonder what all these threats and deaths are all about. Who are these from? Some criminal? Perhaps. I feel like that these are connected to the death of the person she killed. Things are too vague for me to guess who this person actually was… A part of me tells that the person could be a family member of her. Her mother or father, maybe? I don’t know. I am very interested to know Alexandra’s family history though. To me it seems like the clue to everything is is hidden in reviving the past incidents of her life.

Hm… I wonder what the case is. Why did she become so afraid only after seeing a jack of club? To some extent, it makes me think of the presence of an organization or so which has made this Black jack of club as their symbol to send threats to people signifying that some danger was approaching. One thing I can very much understand is the fact that Alexandra isn’t safe at all. These people who are threatening her know her location and I don’t think she has any kind of security weapons with her. Overall, this was a very solid piece we had here. Tag me in the next chapter if you plan to post it.

Keep Writing!!

~Forever




LadyTano says...


Thank you so much for your review!
You don't need to know anything about Batman in order to understand this story, actually, unlike most fanfics!
Alexandra is between the ages of 16 and 19, I haven't decided yet.
I don't want to spoil anything, but you've got a pretty good idea about the jack of clubs in the last paragraph.
Thanks again!
-Lady Tano





You are welcome!!

Thanks for the information. It's very fortunate that I don't have to know anything about Batman :D

Hmm... I kind of got the idea from the five orange pips of Sherlock Holmes.



LadyTano says...


That's interesting, I've never read any Sherlock Holmes though.





Ah I wonder if anyone in the whole world has managed to read everything. I for one haven't read pretty much anything. :)




I am deeply disturbed by your ability to meow.
— Carina