Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Introducing New Characters - Part 2

Part 1 of this short story was the last post for anyone who missed it and prefers to start at the beginning.

    Audra parked her bike against the back of the building. She stuffed her hands in her jacket pockets to warm them up, though parts of her were sweaty. Cold October air and racing nerves made an interesting combination. Ever since she’d asked Logan to check out the shadow with her, she’d alternated between feeling relieved and feeling completely ridiculous.
    She’d almost told him not to bother coming several times. After nearly a week, the picture in her head didn’t seem as menacing, but she remembered the shivers she felt at the sight. It was the shivers that stopped her from stopping Logan.
    He was already standing by the front door when she walked around to it. “Hi,” she said.
    Logan rubbed his hands together. “Ready to investigate?”
    She nodded and made a move towards the door.
    He opened it and gestured for her to go in first.
    “Hey, look at that. My favorite grandchild is early today.”  Grandma May’s voice greeted Audra as soon as she took her first step inside.
    Audra waved rather than match her grandma’s volume.
    The older woman was behind the counter at the back. She called across the nearly empty restaurant with a breezy tone. “Who’s that stranger you got with you?”
    Logan said mechanically, “I’m not a stranger.”
    “Are you sure? They don’t get much stranger than you.” Grandma May grinned at her punchline.
    Audra laughed as Logan rolled his eyes. Both her grandparents did this routine with Logan so often it would become unfunny for a time, then roll around to being funny again. Audra seemed to find it more amusing the less Logan did.
    “I’m here to save Audra from a terrifying shadow,” Logan said. They’d moved closer as they spoke, but it still seemed to Audra that everyone was yelling. He sent her a glance that suggested his announcement was payback for laughing.
    “A shadow?”
    Audra jumped in to explain before he could make it sound worse than it was. Not that he needed to exaggerate. “It’s just weird,” she said, “because I can’t figure out where it’s coming from.”
    “Now I want to see.” Grandma May put her hands on her hips and glanced around. “Where is this shadow?”
    “In the kitchen.” Audra led Logan and her Grandma through the door, grateful at least that the one other employee didn’t follow. Her feet began to fight her as she neared the cooler. She didn’t want to see something scary. But she didn’t want to be humiliated that her imagination had run amok either.
    The shadow was fainter in the daytime, but it was still there. Audra demonstrated how moving the brooms didn’t affect it and waving her arms around didn’t affect it.
    “Huh.” Logan sounded intrigued.
    “I’ve never noticed that,” Grandma May said. She stepped away and began to straighten some things on the counter, apparently unconcerned.
    Logan moved the brooms and waved his hands, too.
    “I just did that,” Audra said.
    The shadow began to flicker lightly. With Logan right there, it didn’t bother her. But she knew the same thing might terrify her when she was alone and the windows were black. She let him continue to repeat her movements.
    “Oh, wait a sec.” His hand was in the air and because he was taller, it seemed to be interrupting light where hers had not. He wiggled his fingers and squinted. “But the angle doesn’t…”
    Audra breathed a sigh of relief as he mumbled to himself. It seemed he would be able to explain what she was seeing but not so easily that he’d be able to mock her for not figuring it out herself.
    “I got it,” he said suddenly. “See the fan on the bottom of the cooler? The light is reflecting off the blades from way up here and casting the shadow of the mesh in front of it. That’s why it’s not a real distinctive shape and flickers when the blades are spinning.” He looked at Audra questioningly, more to see if he’d said it clearly than because she might be too stupid to grasp the concept.
    She smiled as the cooler quieted and the shadow stilled at the same time, proof if she’d needed more. She just sort of stared at Logan, unsure how to say thank you. She was honestly grateful, but if she gushed at all, it would confirm how worked up she’d gotten herself.
    “You kids solve the mystery?” Grandma May’s voice broke into what might have become an awkward moment.
    Audra nodded.
    “Good. While you’re here, Logan…” She trailed off to make sure she had his attention.
    “Uh, yeah?” His eyes lingered on Audra a second after the rest of him turned away.
    “I already got a couple Thanksgiving orders,” Grandma said. “Can I count on you to help me make pies again this year?”
    “Do I get to make one for myself again this year?” he asked with an eager expression.
    “Yes, please.”
    “We’ll save you the best one,” she said.
    “They’re all the best one,” he countered.
    Grandma May smiled at the flattery. “Then you’ll help?”
    “Of course.” He talked schedule with her for a minute, then stuck around to chat until they needed to begin prepping for the dinner rush.