Or Even Longer – Part 1

“Together they throw the dirt, listen to its plunk against wood, a sound so unlike anything else in the world, one you could remember forever. I can only sit back and watch, too stunned to move or even to make a sound.

“Only one thought breaks through my shock to echo through my mind. How? How could it have all gone so horribly wrong? I don’t have the answer to that question. All I can say is that the last few days have been a nightmare – one from which I may never awaken.”

Connor could hardly contain himself until Gen had told the cast and crew that it was a wrap. He clapped and then smiled at them. “That was just great, Trenton,” he said, bouncing forward to slap the male lead on the shoulder. “Terrific job! There was such feeling! Such terror! I was blown away!”

“Thanks, Connor,” Trenton said, bowing with a flourish. The cloak swirled around him as he turned away. Giving a jaunty wave, he said, “Off to change. Then, we can all get together for the party, right?”

“Absolutely,” Gen said. He punched Connor on the arm. “You’re coming, of course,” he said.

“I have to ask Ceinwyn,” Connor said, shaking his head slightly. When Gen looked like he might argue, Connor said, “Say what you want, Gen. The fact remains: I need to ask my wife before I can just vanish for hours at a time. Besides, maybe she’ll want to come too?”

“She’s got you licked, man,” Gen said. “I’d never let my wife tell me when I couldn’t go out an enjoy myself.”

Connor smiled. “If you were married, you mean?” he asked, blinking at the director innocently.

“Maybe, that’s why you aren’t,” Holly said, her tone bright and cheerful. She laughed when Gen shot her a half-hearted glare. Then, she hurried after the other actors.

“Seriously,” Selyn said, giving him a smile. “How do you come up with these ideas, Connor?” He shook his head. “You’re all bright and cheerful and then, you write these really dark stories that give people the willies!”

“Just a talent, I guess,” Connor said, shrugging. He nodded politely at Selyn, then stepped away. He waited until he was outside, where he could get the best signal, to pull out his cellular. He hit the first number on the speed dial, then he waited while it rang.

“Pemberton Emporium,” a warm, familiar voice said. “How can I help you?”

“Hey, Honey,” Connor said, as he leaned back against the wall. “We just wrapped up here and everyone was going down to The Lone Star for some celebrating. I just… would it be all right if I went too?”

“Sure,” Ceinwyn said. She chuckled lightly and said, “Have fun, Connie. Just call me when you’re on your way home, all right?”

“I will,” Connor said. He sighed softly and then added, “I won’t be out late, probably just until ten or so. I’ve got work in the morning, after all. We’re already filming episodes of Inside the Agency.”

“All right,” Ceinwyn replied. “I’ll see you when you get home.”

Connor made a noise of affirmation and then shut the cellular. He slipped it into his pocket and glanced around. It wasn’t late, not yet, however, it was already dark. The sun set so early in the wintertime.

His brows furrowed and he shifted from one foot to the other. He didn’t like being outside alone. Part of him wanted to go back inside, but he knew the others would meet him there. He didn’t want them to think he’d gone home and leave without him. Besides, they were on a closed movie lot. What could happen?

He heard the crunch of feet on gravel and looked up. “Trent?” he said, tilting his head to one side. “Is that you?” He didn’t realize until it was too late that he’d heard the echo of footsteps – the person was coming up behind him.

A hand covered his mouth and another wrapped around his torso. Connor screamed as he was dragged into the shadows between two buildings. His cries, however, were muffled by a cloth that his attack held in place there as well.

His eyes widened as Trenton and the others appeared around the side of the building. “I guess Connor went home?” Trenton said, glancing around.

Connor squirmed, but his attacker picked him up as if he weighed nothing. They wouldn’t even hear the crunch of his feet on the gravel. As his vision began to darken, the group turned and walked away. No one would miss him for hours, when Ceinwyn called them looking for him. That was his last thought as he tumbled into darkness.

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