Hiking, bearded dragons, escaped crickets. None of these have anything to do with the plot of Lacunae – but they have prevented me from getting the next chapter out sooner. Apologies! 🙂
So, after a longer gap than normal, I’m back with Lacunae: Chapter 7!
If you missed Lacunae: Chapter 1, you can go right back to the beginning and read it HERE.
For the second time in as many days, Cooper stood outside Jenna’s, but his current pent up feelings had a different cause. Being given the cold shoulder and ignoring texts was annoying enough, but when he could hear her ringtone playing as he stood on the doorstep, well that was just…rude!
He knew Jenna liked stringing out any gripes she had with the world, snubbing the accused but loving the attention she got from updating her numerous social media profiles with tales of unfair treatment. Coop had been on the receiving end of her silent tactic plenty of times, yet when confronted face to face, she would generally address the issue, if only to show off her pouting theatrics and manipulate an apology – whether it was deserved or not.
He knocked again. Still no response. Cooper exhaled slowly, his exasperation mounting. He was in no mood to continue playing games and didn’t like the thought of Jenna watching him become more and more flustered. He jumped across the flower-bed of lilies and peered through the window. The gauzy hangings may have looked pretty but failed at providing any privacy.
Snooping dispelled some thoughts of Jenna staring and laughing at him the entire time he was knocking. The room was empty.
However, he couldn’t be bothered to circle the house and risk the neighbours thinking he was a burglar…or desperate. In fact, he couldn’t be bothered, full stop. Coop stepped backwards across the lawn, gazing at the top windows as he shouted at the house.
“Fine, have it your way. If you’re still mad for no reason whatsoever I’ll let you get on with it. I, too, have got better things to do than wait for your decision that I’m fit to speak to again. See you around Jen!”
Turning on his heel, Cooper strutted away down the path. His scowl lifted to be replaced by a broad smile. “That felt good,” he thought to himself. He couldn’t remember a time when he had been truly assertive with Jenna – always too afraid of the repercussions and his ‘supply’ being cut.
But he didn’t even glance back as he rounded the corner and made his way towards Trent’s house. Perhaps he was growing a pair after all!
U proud of me Trentboy? Think I just ditched Jen. Be at urs in 5.
Cooper pressed ‘send’. Scrolling through previous messages, he walked on, eyes on his phone, distracted until something brushed past him at speed.
“Whoa!” Startled, Coop looked up and glimpsed a flash of red hair disappearing along a side street behind him.
“Damn joggers, stick to your own side of the path!”
Arriving at Trent’s door, he didn’t need to wait long for his friend to answer. Coop heard the last bolt slide open and was poised to walk in, but found he couldn’t. Trent peered out from the small opening he’d allowed.
“Is it okay out there?” Trent’s face had a familiar look of panic that Cooper usually associated with his sister.
“Of course it is, dickhead! You still thinking the world’s gonna end after what I told you? Wish I’d never mentioned it!”
Cooper made to move through the gap but Trent came out a little further, casting furtive glances left and right and scanning the sky like a meerkat on hawk patrol.
“There have been…developments. We need to be vigilant.”
“Really? Oh my god, what’s happened? Did Bigfoot stop by? Dickhead!” Cooper pushed his friend aside, gaining entry to the hallway.
“Ow, easy man. The arm still hurts.” Trent took one last, sulky look outside and re-bolted the door.
“Sorry dude, but you’ll be hiding behind the curtains and throwing holy water around next.”
“I’m serious though. Mrs. Parkinson from next door came round.”
“Oh, the woman who keeps a log of what time your lights go out and how many men have visited number 16? What glorious piece of gossip was she touting this time?”
“Her daughter, Maisie, works down at the station…”
“Who’s that you’re talking to Trenton? Don’t be leaving that door open. God only knows what we might be inviting in.” The shrill, unmistakable voice of Trent’s mother carried from a room at the end of the hall.
“It’s just Coop, Ma. It’s fine.” Trent rolled his eyes and continued. “Anyway, like I was saying, she was working the night Officer…
“Bring him in, bring him in, such a dear boy. Have you told him what we know?”
“Not yet Ma…”
Cooper laughed at his friend’s exasperated expression.
“C’mon. I better let her tell you the info or she’ll never let up. Then you can tell me why you think you’ve called time on anymore ‘blondezvous’!”
Mrs. Arnold was a large woman, both in size and personality. Beady eyes flashed eagerly above rounded cheeks, flushed with the excitement of being able to relay her newly earned secrets to another audience. She looked out across her living room kingdom, sitting square in the middle of her sofa throne, dunking biscuits into tea.
“Cooper! You get more handsome every time I see you. He’s becoming quite the man Trenton. I’m sure you’ll catch up soon. Help yourself to biscuits.”
“Tastes have changed Ma. It’s the time of the nerd – nobody goes for his toned body and casually cool bed-hair anymore. They’re falling over themselves trying to catch me. But none have come close to the most important woman in my life.”
Trent’s mother lapped up his insipid smile, as she indicated for them both to get comfortable. This charade of her dropping in insults and Trent responding with insincere affection still puzzled Cooper.
“So, Maisie, she works in admin at the station. Mrs. Parkinson said, that she said, that Officer Jackson said they’d never seen anything like it – that man, you know, who bit the ear off that orderlie?” Mrs. Arnold looked for an acknowledgment of understanding.
“Oh, hmmm…yes?” Cooper felt he was expected to chip in with noises to feed the gossip monster.
“Well, everyone thought he was just some random tramp, filling his day with drinking. Turns out, he’s some recluse and a pretty wealthy one at that. Used to be a bigwig at Calvert House. Director of Scientific Research, I think. Until he lost his mind. So what do you think to that?”
She took a bite out of another chocolate biscuit, a triumphant grin on her face.
“Will your dad know him?” Trent asked.
“Erm, maybe? I don’t know. Do you even know his name? I reckon Mom would have mentioned it, if she knew it was some crazy ex-colleague of my dad’s running around, tearing chunks out of people.”
Mrs. Arnold looked a little deflated. Cooper got the impression she had not only been waiting for him to corroborate her tale, but add his own embellishments. Nevertheless, she carried on.
“Officer Jackson found out that he started focusing his research on unexplained deaths within the shadow of volcanoes. Became consumed by it, holing himself away in a run-down mansion, collecting information of bizarre sightings going back hundreds of years.
Seems it all came to a head a few days ago, when he started ranting at his housekeeper that it was going to happen again. He took off into Harrington and was yelling at anyone that they needed to take cover from the ‘fire water’. His housekeeper apparently told the police he was convinced the ‘demons of the sky’ would reign terror on Ludlow Province once more, mutilating their victims to further their race. Reckons he has proof and everything. It’s all to do with the eruption.”
Cooper’s biscuit stopped halfway to his mouth. He glanced at Trent.
“Yeah, like I said. There have been…developments!”
Credits: All words copyright of Aloada Bobbins. Image from Buzzfeed.com