Chapter 9

Chapter 9

A Chapter by Preeti

Chapter 9 of Semantic Blends: A Chain Novel.



Written by Preeti (

Written for Semantic Blends: A Chain Novel Experiment


     As Josh lied down on his bed that night, he could hardly believe the day he had had. A terrible report card (which he carefully hid from his mother upon his return home), his near arrest, the encounter with the Smart People, the crazy blind man who didn’t seem to be quite human, Josephine’s note…and Gail. They hadn’t seen each other in months yet they had fallen into ease with each other as if it had only been a day. All this time he had thought she was doing what she wanted to do, that she was with who she wanted to be with (whoever that was)…to find out none of it was how he had thought it was! He was almost delirious with happiness. She hated Sergeant Hawk! She wanted escape! And best of all, she wanted escape with him! It was perfect, it was all so perfect…
                 “Here you go sweetheart,” his mother said monotonously as she set down a tray on his lap. He looked down. A steaming hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. Some French bread. He breathed in deeply, taking in the wonderful aroma of the soup. It was his favorite.
                 “What happened to your face?” she asked.
                 Instinctively, he reached up to touch his cheek and winced when he felt what he suspected must be dried blood. His run-ins with the police that day did not leave him unscathed.
                 “Er, I tripped,” he said. His mother looked at him doubtfully but said no more on the subject.
                 “Eat your soup before it gets cold. I’ll be in the den. Try not to disturb me.”
                 His mother looked at him and sighed before turning to leave.
                 “Mom, wait!” he said, his heart thumping. He realized that this might be the last time he sees her.
                 “Yes, honey?”
                 “You--you’ll be okay, Mom. The Parsons next door…they’re good people, even if they don’t like me much. I’m just a hassle, I know and I screw up their garden all the time but they’ve got nothing towards you...they’ll look after you…” he was rambling.
                 “What are you talking about?”
                 “Um, nothing,” he swallowed heavily, “Never mind.”
                 Again, she gave him a skeptical look but still didn’t say anything. He knew why. She didn’t care what happened to him. Whatever mother she once was died the day of the Quake, had died with his father and sister, and whatever was left over in her body was some cheap imitation. A cheap imitation struggling to maintain some sort of semblance of normality, pretending to care just because he shared her blood. But blood meant little when there was nothing else to tie them together. She didn’t care about his grades, his life, whether or not he got hurt…as long as he didn’t die because then, she would have to answer to the authorities. And that was too much hassle, too much paperwork. She was waiting until his graduation to be rid of him, he knew, and he would grant her that wish sooner than expected.
                 Taking a deep breath, he began eating his soup, feeling his muscles relax as more and more of the delicious hot liquid washed down his throat.


It was one-fifteen in the morning and Josh stood hidden in the shadow of his old house wearing all black and looking frantically for a figure to emerge from the darkness. She was half an hour late. Where was she? Had she gotten caught? What sort of terrible, brutish things was she now suffering at the hands of Sergeant Hawk? He shuddered and put the thought out of his mind. No, that couldn’t happen. The universe wasn’t so cruel to give him a way out, to be some more than a silly schoolboy, and then snatch it away. But where was she?

                 “She won’t come,” a voice called out from the darkness. With a start, he turned around to see the blind man walking towards him.
                 “Yes, me” he chuckled.
                 Josh felt surge of anger pass through him. He ran up to the blind man and grabbed his collar.
                 “Where is she?” he hissed, “What have you done with her?”
                 The blind man smiled at him and with amazing, inhuman strength, grabbed Josh’s wrists and forced him to let go of his shirt.
                 “That’s of little concern to you now.”
                 The man pushed Josh back and he stumbled.
                 “What are you doing here?” asked Josh, glaring at the man and rubbing his wrists. The man’s grip had been tight.
                 “To help you. You want to escape, don’t you?”
                 “With Gail. I want to escape with Gail!
                 “She won’t come, Josh. She doesn’t exist.”
                 Josh could have laughed.
                 “If you wanted to try and convince me to leave with you, to leave Gail behind, you should have come up with a better reason than that.”
                 “I told you that because it’s the truth. The Gail you think you know doesn’t exist.”
                 “So what, my first kiss was just in my head?”
                 “That was real, my dear boy.”

            “Yeah? And what about Gail convincing the cops to let me go today?”

            “That wasn’t Gail, Josh.”

            The blind man looked so serious, it almost made Josh want to punch him in the face. Who was this guy? Why was he so bent on making up lies? Josh suddenly felt tired.

            “You’re full of bullshit, you know that? Just--just leave me alone.” With that, he sat down on the lawn--now filled with dead grass and weeds--and put his head in his hands. There was a slight thumping in there now. He just wanted this day to be over. Where the hell was Gail?

            “Tough day, son?”

            Josh grunted in response.

            “What were you doing this morning?”

            “Why the f**k should I answer your questions?” Josh grumbled.

            “Well, what else have you got to do?” the blind man retorted as he sat down next to Josh. Josh glared at him.

            “I was at school.”

            “And then?”

            “And then I walked back home.”

            “But not directly back home?”

            “Fine! I stopped by my old place, you happy? You know about it already. You were there. Why are you asking me this?”

            “Because, my dear boy, you still don’t know yet!”

            “Know what?” grumbled Josh.

            “Think about it. You stop by your old place and then, all hell breaks loose, doesn’t it? You get arrested where you meet Gail of all people, a girl you loved but haven’t seen in months. You’re let go but come back and nearly get yourself killed by the Smart People and voila, who do you run into but Gail again? And she says exactly what you want to hear: she’s unhappy, she needs someone to save her, to take her away. And you’re just the person to do it! You, with your resistance against the government, your underground pals fighting back. You’ll do it and the both of you’ll just skip happy-dandy into the sunset and live happily ever after. Don’t it seem a little too perfect?”

            Josh said nothing. The thumping in his head was getting stronger now.

            “And that’s not even half of it. You find Josephine’s note, another girl you loved, telling you exactly where she is and how you can find her the same day you meet Gail. Coincidence?”

            “Fine, it’s weird okay?” Josh said exasperatedly, “That doesn’t prove anything.”

            “No, what I’ve said so far don’t prove nothing. But what I’m about to say will.”

            “And what’s that?”

            “What’s the last thing you remember before being arrested?”

            “I was in my old kitchen. There was an old family photo on the floor…and…” Josh furrowed his eyebrows, trying to recollect exactly what had happened.


            “And I woke up at the police station, alright? What more do you want?”

            “You heard something, didn’t you? You saw something right before you passed out.”

            Josh closed his eyes, trying to focus on what exactly had happened. The thumping in his head was almost impossible to ignore now. It hurt, oh the pain, so much pain until he saw white. White. Why was that so important? A flash? A whisper?

            “There--there was a white flash and someone--someone whispered to me.”

            “What did they say, boy? What did they say?

            Josh turned to look at the blind man, his eyes wide.

            “Join us.”

            The man clapped his hands and threw his head back, letting out a loud, victorious laugh.

            “There it is!” he said gleefully, “there it is!”

            “What is? This doesn’t prove anything.”

            “But it does, it does!”

            Josh rubbed his temples tiredly. The blind man was crazy but he was right about one thing: Gail wasn’t going to show. He felt a surge of anxiety as he thought about her and what must have happened. Maybe they can try again. But for now…now, the pain in his head was almost unbearable. He wanted nothing more than to go back home, to lie in his warm bed and sleep the rest of this miserable night away.

            “What do you think the white flash was, Josh?”

            “I don’t know. The cops, maybe they shot me or something. Gassed me to take me in.”

            The blind man pursed his lips, a thoughtful expression on his face.

            “Maybe” he said reluctantly, “but I don’t think that’s it. The cops whisper “Join us” too then, boy? Seems like a weird thing for the cops to say, don’t it?”

            Josh felt sick. Very sick.

            “I don’t give a f**k who said what. I’m going to go home,” Josh said, standing up. Home…he just wanted to home…

            “You giving up on Gail then, boy?”

            “Yeah--no. She’s not going to come. I’ll--I’ll find her in the morning,” he murmured. The pain in his head was incomparable to anything he had ever felt before. It was blinding him, he couldn’t see and struggled to keep his eyes open as he took a few shaky steps towards the place he most desperately wanted to go, but the blindness overtook and he felt himself falling. And as he was falling, he heard the blind man speaking behind him, his voice growing deeper and more raspy by the second, taking on an almost animalistic tone.

            “I’ve got all the answers boy! You can’t go home.”

            Now on his knees, Josh grabbed fistfuls of dead grass as he struggled to hold on to consciousness.

            “Who...who are you?” he gasped.

            “Me?” the blind man said innocently, “I’m your subconscious, boy.”

            The last thing Josh heard before succumbing to the pain was a loud, wolfish howl.

© 2011 Preeti

Author's Note

A bit on the long side, I know. But I wanted to provide a reason as to why he was so ready to leave his mom behind in the previous chapter, which is why I think the beginning scene is necessary.

My Review

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very good. also, very detailed. and it was awesome. loved it.

Posted 9 Years Ago

Sounds awesome, I liked the urgency with which the meaning of the past events were told, you kept me reading until the very last line!! Can't wait to read the final chapter! :)

Posted 9 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on December 22, 2011
Last Updated on December 22, 2011



San Diego, CA

College undergraduate with an inconvenient tendency to drift into imaginary worlds. Half of what I think isn't original (as there is so little these days which truly is 100% original) and the other ha.. more..

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