Black Petals Issue #85, Autumn, 2018

Door County Getaway
Home
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Bottle Music-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Bridge to Forever-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Door County Getaway-Fiction by Roy Dorman
It's Out There-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Napper's Holler-Chapter 4-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler-Chapter 5-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler-Chapter 6-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
The Gift-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Gifted Ones-Fiction by David Powell
The Seeker-Fiction by Ken Hueler
Blood/Brain Barrier-6 Poems by Will H. Blackwell, Jr.

doorcounty.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2018

Door County Getaway

 

By Roy Dorman

 

 

Elizabeth and Edward had used Marcovici’s portal to escape from the consequences of mistakes they had made in their lives. Having teamed up in Nowhere Land, they had been spending most of their energy trying to find the way to long-term existence there. Now behind Door #2, they have met Rose, who enlists them as bodyguards to a person who will be making a one-way trip to another world in deep space. That valuable person is Janna Korba.

 

“Is she still alive?”

“Yes, but just barely. She needs a transfusion…and soon.”

“We have a donor. I’ll get her.”  

 

Janna Korba’s cat, Jesse, woke her with the insistent purring she made when she thought Janna had slept long enough and it was time for her to put food in the cat’s bowl.

Janna checked her phone and saw Jesse was right—it was six-thirty, and if she was going to do a little grocery shopping before her shift, she’d have to get moving.

The afternoon sun had begun its descent and the shadows were long as Janna passed through the living room. In the kitchen, she opened the second-to-the-last can of cat food and emptied it into her cat’s bowl. She rinsed out the water dish and refilled it.

Back in the bedroom, she threw something on, grabbed her last thirty dollars, and headed out the door.

Walking down the hallway toward the stairs, she heard her phone chirp; a text had just come in.

A BLACK SUV IS PARKED OUTSIDE ON THE STREET IN FRONT OF YOUR BUILDING. GET IN. YOUR LIFE WILL BE CHANGED.

Janna looked to see who had sent this cryptic text and found the sender was blocked. She walked down the three flights of stairs and stepped out onto the sidewalk. In front of her by the curb sat a black SUV.

Slowly, she walked up to it. Peering into the passenger side window, she saw no one was inside. The sound of her phone chirping again caused her to jump and give out with a little chirp of her own.

IT’S UNLOCKED. THERE’S MONEY ON THE FRONT SEAT. GET IN.

Janna looked around to see if someone was watching her. She thought this surely must be some kind of hidden camera joke.

“Okay, fun’s over; I’m done here,” she said, and turned to walk down the street to the market.

Once again, her phone chirped and displayed the message: HOW MANY MORE YEARS DO YOU THINK THE EXOTIC DANCER GIG WILL LAST? GET IN.

Janna, a.k.a. Strawberry Fields, was an exotic dancer. Actually, she danced at a neighborhood strip club three blocks from her apartment building and tried her best to look exotic. Her mother, recently deceased, had been part Ho-Chunk Indian, and her father, address unknown, had Greek ancestry that went a long way back. 

With that genetic background, some heavy makeup, and a sensuous smile, she easily passed for an exotic dancer with the sort of crowd who frequented the hole-in-the-wall club she danced at. Her workplace was on the north side of Chicago, about six blocks from Wrigley Field.

Summer was the best season financially for her, and with the Cubs in town tonight, Saturday, as well as tomorrow, she had been looking forward to some serious post-game tips from the out of town Cubs fans.

“Okay, I’m getting in, but I have my phone ready to dial 911. You got that?” she said to the evening air in front of her.

No chirp from her phone, but a passerby did look at her strangely.

Janna opened the driver-side door and saw a brown manila envelope with her name on it on the passenger seat. Leaning in, she grabbed the envelope and once again looked around to see if she could catch someone watching her.

She opened the envelope and pulled out a handful of twenty dollar bills. They weren’t new and they looked real.

There was another text: THE GPS IS SET FOR YOUR DESTINATION. THE BILLS WILL BE LARGER THERE. GET IN.

Janna stood thinking. It was true she had been growing tired of her job lately. She had a degree in English she had never used and recently had been fantasizing about getting into an entry-level editing position.

“What the hell,” she said as she climbed in and turned the key. 

Now that the vehicle was running, a voice spoke to her through its communication system. The voice was female and not mechanical like the usual GPS-type systems.

THE DRIVE WILL BE ABOUT FOUR HOURS. YOU’LL BE TAKING INTERSTATES NORTH ALONG LAKE MICHIGAN TO DOOR COUNTY, A VACATION SPOT IN WISCONSIN. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU NEED? 

Janna thought about Jesse. “I have a cat,” she said to the dashboard. “Someone will have to look in on and feed her if I’m going to be gone long.”

JESSE WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF. WHAT ABOUT YOU? HUNGRY?

“How’d you know the name of my cat?” Janna asked.

YOU HAVE BEEN VERY THOROUGHLY VETTED. WE KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. ARE YOU HUNGRY?

“I haven’t eaten since this morning,” she said. “But you’d already know that, wouldn’t you?”

IN TWO MILES THERE IS A CHINESE RESTAURANT. YOU MAY STAY FOR A HALF HOUR, BUT NO MORE.

 

Janna found a parking spot on the street near The Golden Dragon and started toward it. A half block from the restaurant she was passing a dive bar, The Grumpy Troll, and the smell of bar food, cigarette smoke, and stale beer drifted out. 

On an impulse, Janna turned into the bar. As she sat down on a stool, her phone chirped, but she ignored it.

“I’ll have a burger, medium, with onions and some fries,” she said to the beefy bartender.

“What can I get ya to drink?” he asked.

“A pint of any old IPA would be nice,” she said.

The bartender handed the slip with the food order through a window behind him and pulled a draft.

“Here ya go,” he said, setting the beer in front of her. “It’s happy hour. Burger, fries, and a beer; that’ll be ten bucks even.”

Janna gave him one of her newly acquired twenties and he gave her back “bartender’s change;” a five and fine ones.

She took a sip of her beer, pushed the five on the rail for a tip, and pocketed the ones. It wasn’t her money; she could afford to leave a good tip.

“So,” she asked. “Are you the Grumpy Troll?”

“Do I look like a troll to you?” the bartender answered.

“I don’t know; what do trolls look like?”

“They’re kinda short, kinda fat, and kinda ugly.”

“Yeah, you’re right; you’re too tall to be a troll.”

“What are you; a comedian?” he asked.

“No, I’m an exotic dancer.”

“No shit? I’ve always wanted to be an exotic dancer?”

“Now who’s the comedian?” Janna said with a smirk.

The bartender gave Janna a thumbs up and moved down to the end of the bar where a new customer had just sat down.

While she waited for her burger, she took out her phone to check the text. Who knew; maybe the SUV had taken off and “they” were going to go with their back-up quarterback.

WE ARE WILLING TO MAKE ALLOWANCES FOR YOUR BEHAVIOR AT THIS STAGE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP, BUT PLEASE BE PREPARED TO FOLLOW THE SCRIPT LATER ON.

“Yeah, or else what?” Janna muttered.

The bartender gave her the same sort of look the passerby outside her apartment building had given her earlier.

 

Back on the road, Janna waited for a dressing down, but none came.

“Well, aren’t ya gonna say something?” she finally asked.

ARE THE BURGERS ANY GOOD IN THAT JOINT?

“I’ve never been there before, but yeah, the burger was good,” said Janna.

I MAY STOP THERE SOMETIME AFTER FEEDING JESSE.

Janna drove for a bit before responding. “I guess I just realized you might be a real person and not just a computerized communication system.”

OH, I’M A REAL PERSON ALL RIGHT. LOVE BAR BURGERS AND LOVE JESSE, IF THAT’S WHAT TIPPED YOU OFF.

“So this vetting thing; does that mean you’ve been in my apartment and snooped around?”

SNOOPING AROUND SOUNDS SO CREEPY. I INSTALLED A FEW BUGS AND A COUPLE OF CAMERAS, WENT THROUGH YOUR DRESSER DRAWERS, AND PLAYED WITH JESSE WHILE YOU WERE AT WORK.

“Damn, that sounds pretty creepy to me,” said Janna.

YEAH, MAYBE, BUT IT’S A LIVING.

“Is it okay if we talk while I’m driving? I’d like to know how I was picked for this…, assignment.”

THERE WERE A LOT OF VARIABLES TO CONSIDER. THE FIRST WAS THAT YOU WERE AN ORPHAN AND AN ONLY CHILD WITH NO CLOSE RELATIVES.

“My mom died a few years ago from lung cancer. I don’t know if Dad’s still alive. But it sounds like maybe you do.”

SORRY, HE’S NOT. HE DIED IN A SHOOTOUT IN THE SOUTH BRONX FIVE YEARS AGO. SOMETHING TO DO WITH GAMBLING DEBTS OWED TO THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE.

“Was he ‘the wrong kind of people’? I didn’t really know him.”

SORRY, AGAIN, BUT, YES, HE WAS THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE. HE LIVED HARD AND FAST, USUALLY ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE LAW.

“So, what’s in Door County? Why do you need me?” asked Janna.

THE MIX OF YOUR GENETIC MATERIAL IS OF INTEREST TO US. THERE IS SOMEONE WE WOULD LIKE YOU TO MEET.

“Okay, now I’m starting to hear the scary background music that plays just before something really bad happens to the main character. I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me who the ‘us’ is who has the hots for my genes, are you?”

There was silence for a few minutes. Janna let the silence go on as the interstate miles accumulated. They were still a long way from their destination. She could take the next exit, follow the cloverleaf to the onramp heading back to Chicago, and chalk this up to an adventure she could share with friends for years to come. Not that anybody would ever believe her.

I’M NOT AT LIBERTY TO TELL YOU WHO ‘US’ IS AT THIS TIME. I CAN ASSURE YOU THERE’S NOTHING DIABOLICAL GOING ON LIKE YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY SEEN IN HORROR MOVIES. IT’S A… BUSINESS VENTURE.

Janna drove on thinking she would wait for more information rather than ask for it. That last reply did nothing to make her feel less likely she had stumbled into something that could be dangerous, like, say, human trafficking. 

It was getting dark now, about 8:30, and she would need a potty break. She thought about Jesse at home alone.

 

“I think we’re being followed,” said Janna. “The car behind us came on quick but has been hanging back at our speed for about five minutes.”

TRY DRIVING A LITTLE FASTER AND SEE WHAT THEY DO.

Janna accelerated to 75 MPH and checked her rearview mirror. “They’re still keeping pace,” she said.

THERE’S A REST STOP IN ABOUT TEN MINUTES.  IF THEY’RE STILL WITH US WHEN YOU GET TO IT, TAKE THE EXIT. WE ALREADY HAVE SOMEBODY THERE.

The car stayed with Janna like she was towing it. When she got to the rest area, she took the exit and wound her way to the parking lot.

DON’T STOP.  DRIVE STRAIGHT THROUGH THE LOT AND TAKE THE EXIT BACK ONTO THE INTERSTATE.

“But…”

Janna then heard a burst of what had to be automatic fire. Checking her rear view mirror, she saw the car that had been following her drift off to its left and smash into a small shade tree.

Janna hit the interstate doing seventy. Somebody was just killed because of her. She didn’t want to think too much about what might happen to her if she tried to head back to Chicago.

YOUR SAFETY IS A PRIORITY WITH US. THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE COMES UP BEHIND YOU AND STAYS WITH YOU, IT’LL BE ONE OF OUR PEOPLE. THEY WILL STAY WITH YOU UNTIL WE GET TO OUR DESTINATION.

“I have to pee,” said Janna.

THERE’S A MCDONALDS AT AN EXIT ABOUT THREE MILES FROM HERE. THEIR RESTROOMS ARE ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE, USUALLY CLEAN TOO.

 

Janna left I-94 in Milwaukee for I-43, still heading north, and eventually came to WI-57, which was nearing the end of the journey. She hadn’t asked any more questions and her companion hadn’t spoken in nearly a hundred miles. She was good with that; she needed time to think.

Door County, Wisconsin, was that “thumb” on Wisconsin’s eastern side that stuck out into Lake Michigan. Made up of a dozen small towns, it was a summer tourist destination. With Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other, the narrow strip of land was almost an island.

When they hit WI-42, the last leg, and left WI-57, Janna decided it was time to talk again.

“So, we’re going to a town called Fish Creek; what’s there?”

There was no immediate answer, and Janna thought that maybe there was a reception problem. When a voice finally spoke, it was not the voice of her previous companion.

THERE IS SOMEONE IN FISH CREEK WHO NEEDS SOMETHING YOU CAN GIVE HER.

“Wait a minute. What happened to…the other one?”

There was silence; this new one was getting instructions.

VERY FEW OF OUR PEOPLE KNEW OF THE PLAN AND ITS ROUTE. SIGNS POINT TO A TRAITOR. GWEN HAS BEEN…REASSIGNED UNTIL CLEARED FOR DUTY AGAIN.

“Well, all this is way over my head,” said Janna. “And I’m not superhero material; I’ve got an English degree I’ve never used and dance at a dive bar. I don’t think I have what your people are looking for. I’d like to go home.”

STAY ON HIGHWAY 42. WE HAVE RESERVED A SET OF ROOMS AT THE BAYSIDE RESORT IN FISH CREEK.

 

 Janna was sitting on a couch waiting for someone to come in and tell her what was going on. Her new companion, Felicity, had told her someone higher up would give her the complete picture.

 Janna doubted that very much. Hearing that her original contact had been reassigned had not helped set her mind at ease. In most of the books she’d read and movies she’d seen, being “reassigned” usually meant the person in question disappeared. Permanently.

 “Janna,” said Felicity, “this is the lead person of this operation, Natasha Good.”

 “Hello, Janna. Let’s get right down to it. As a well-read person, you are probably aware that there are many theories as to how humans made the jump from a species of ape to the first humans. 

 “We know how that jump occurred. Earth was visited by beings from another galaxy about six million years ago. The first colony was set up in Africa, with subsequent colonies established in China and later, Europe.

 “Experimental breeding programs were established and the results of the experiments, the first humans, were then left to the forces of evolution. Those humans who prospered went on to eventually become the people of today’s Earth.”

 “Wait, wait,” said Janna. “Even if I believed any of this, what does it have to do with me?”

 “Your genes,” said Natasha. “You have bloodlines from ancient Greece and also from the Native Americans who crossed over a land bridge from Russia to Alaska 25,000 years ago.

 “A direct descendent of some of those first visitors is here in this inn. She is near death and wants to live long enough to see her home planet. A transfusion of your blood would most likely give her the time she needs.”

 “But there must be thousands of people alive today who came from a similar genetic background; why me?” asked Janna.

 “As Gwen told you on the drive up here, you were vetted for a number of things. You’re intelligent, kind, adventurous—”

 “Adventurous?” laughed Janna. “Me? No way.”

 “You’re here, aren’t you?” said Natasha.

 “Why didn’t you just put a bag over my head, put me in the trunk of a car, and bring me here?”

 Natasha looked at Felicity, who smiled and shrugged. “That was Felicity’s original plan,” said Natasha. “But your ancestor—we call her Corrina—insisted that we use no coercion. She wants you to be a willing participant.”

  “Okay,” sighed Janna. “Tell me what’s involved.”

  “Well, there would be an immediate transfusion; time is short,” said Natasha. “Then, you would be prepped for the trip with Corrina to her home.”

  “What? I’m going to another galaxy? Now I’m back to thinking this is some kind of reality television show.”

  “The original colonists didn’t interbreed with the new humans until about five thousand years ago. Corrina is over a thousand years old. Though you would both be in suspended animation for the majority of the trip, there are a few chores at both ends that are of a manual nature. She’ll need you to handle those things.”

  I…I…can’t just leave,” sputtered Janna. “I have a job…and a cat. Who would take care of Jesse?”

“Gwen is with Jesse right now. Jesse is part of her new assignment. Through extraordinary advances in technology brought about by Corrina’s people and shared with us, Gwen now physically looks exactly like you. She also has all of your memories. No one will be able to discover that she is not you.”

“But—”

“You were about done with that exotic dancer business, anyway, right?” said Natasha.

“Yeah,” said Felicity, laughing. “Give Gwen a chance to wring some tips out of those rowdy Cubs fans.”

“Will it be just Corrina and I taking the trip?” Janna asked.

“No,” said Natasha. “We’ve also found two very competent people to go with you. They have performed well under some very grueling situations, and will be helpful in case anything unusual comes up. We’ll meet with Elizabeth and Edward yet tonight. They should pass through the door from another dimension soon.

Janna just sighed and sat back on the couch. “Damn, I can hear that weird background music starting up again,” she said.

 

2B CONTINUED



Roy Dorman, roydorman@yahoo.com, of Madison, WI 53704, who wrote BP #85’s “Door County Getaway” & “The Gift” (+ BP #84’s “Goodbye to Nowhere Land” and “Nobody Should Be at 1610 Maple St.”; BP #83’s “Door #2”; BP #82’s “A Nowhere Friend” & “Foundling”; BP #81’s “Nowhere Man in Nowhere Land” & “The Box with Pearl Inlay”; BP #80’s “Andrew’s War” & “Down at the Hardware Store”; BP #79’s “Cellmates” & “Get Some Shelter,” BP #78’s “All Is as It Should Be,” BP #77’s “Essence of Andrew,” BP #76’s “Flirting with the Alley,” BP #75’s “The Enemy of My Enemy…” BP #74’s “Doesn’t Play Well with Others,” BP #73’s “A Journey Starts with a Flower,” BP #72’s “The Beach House,” BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites,” BP #70’s “Borrowing Some Love” and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good Help…”), is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled Loosely, Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows, Cheapjack Pulp, Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights, Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme of Absence, The Screech Owl, The Story Shack, & Yellow Mama.

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