Chapter 41. Write a Novel Challenge.
Bewilderment overcame Neina as the unknown figure approached her. As the shadow inched closer, thoughts ricocheted around Neina’s brain, overwhelming her. Breaking the silence, Neina bellowed, “Charlotte! Is that you?”
The slim silhouette of her best friend revealed itself with an unnatural glow; a glow that was foreign to Neina. But before Neina could comprehend what was happening, she felt the tight, familiar embrace of her dear friend that made her, if only for a moment, forget about her troubles. The confusion, the curiosity; it all slipped from her mind. Charlotte comfortingly whispered in Neina’s ear, “We’re going home.” Neina finally felt safe, sheltered. Little did she know of the malicious smirk that replaced her friend’s usual, warm grin.
Suddenly, an iridescent vortex sprouted from the ground and engulfed them, along with Janus. They swam in a boundless ocean of light, for what seemed like an eternity, until their surroundings morphed into Neina’s apartment. Neina scanned around her, unable to find her two companions. Too tired to even question what had just happened, Neina collapsed on her bed for some much deserved rest.
As she eagerly climbed underneath her silk covers, she discovered a small card on her pillow that read:
There I lay; beneath your skin
I am not a deadly sin
You come to me with all your problems
For I am the only one who can solve them
I’m the one you least expect
Someone you shall never neglect
I’m the mastermind behind it all
It’s your turn now to take the fall
The person you want to hate
Is in fact, just the bait
So object now, or forever hold your peace
For my power over you shall never cease
Do not forget, you reap what you sow
Who am I? I’m closer than you know.
Neina racked her brain for hours, searching every nook and cranny of her mind, trying to solve the riddle. Eventually, she gave up and thought it best to try again in the morning, perhaps with a different mindset. She squeezed her eyelids shut, attempting to hold back the waterfall of tears that were imploring her to release the flood and admit defeat. But Neina was a fighter and she wasn’t going to give up any time soon. With that, she drifted into a restless trance for the remainder of the night.
Neina was roused from her sleep by the beaming rays of light that managed to seep in through her thick, linen curtains. She gazed at the beautiful sunrise that painted the sky with florid, orange streaks and adorned it with smears of tropical pink. Her smooth, ebony skin glistened in the morning sunlight as she stretched her arms, soaking up every last bit of beauty that lay before her.
She glanced at the nearest alarm clock and decided to put on her lavish clothes, determined to look and feel her absolute best. She also decided to embrace her naturally curly hair that she had spent so much of her time taming throughout the years. She was confident. She knew that she was good at her job and no fresher would be able to compare. She strutted out of the mahogany door standing tall, feeling confident that she could conquer all of London. The Prophecy Tower was going to be a hit and no one could argue with that.
Neina arrived at work and greeted the receptionist with a beaming smile. As she entered the brass elevator, Neina was met by an unwelcoming face. Isla, the root of all evil. Or so she thought. As she studied Isla’s porcelain face, she suddenly remembered a part of the riddle:
The person you want to hate
Is in fact, just the bait
At that moment, Neina realized that Isla, her one and only enemy, wasn’t behind it all. It wasn’t Isla. All along, Neina had been positive that Isla was the mastermind who relished in her misery. But, in fact, she was merely a pawn in some greater power’s wicked game. Isla was not Neina’s true enemy. But if Isla wasn’t the true enemy, who was? Neina’s mind was once again clouded with thoughts that raced at a hundred miles per hour. Her mind sprung from one notion to the next, with nothing to help her keep it in order.
As Isla and Neina approached the fifth floor, an awkward silence grew between them until they both gladly cleared out of the elevator, each going in a different direction. Neina’s mind was still spinning as her skin met the cold leather of her armchair. But, blocking out the dazed confusion, she somehow managed to shift her focus back to the most pressing matter at hand: the Prophecy Tower.
Neina sketched and sketched until she was satisfied with what she had done. She briskly strolled to Frankie’s office, in hopes of impressing him with what she had created. “Hey Frankie!” she exclaimed as she entered the glass doorway of the office, “I wanted you to go over my plans for the Prophecy Tower and maybe give me some feedback.”
Frankie’s stone grey eyes met Neina’s, replying, “Of course! Leave it on my desk and I’ll check it out when I’ve got some free time. Sounds good?” Neina nodded and ambled back to her office. Just as she was going to sit down on her seat, she recognized a familiar card. This card read:
Still can’t figure it out?
I guess you don’t know what it’s all about
Here’s a hint to make it simple
On my pale face, I’ve got two dimples
My face is framed by a lovely red
Watch out, sooner or later, you’ll be dead…
In that moment, it dawned on Neina. The red hair, pale face, dimples, someone unexpected. It all made sense now. It was Charlotte – the bane of her existence. The only person she felt she truly knew and trusted had torn her heart to bits. Neina couldn’t hold back the reservoir of tears that were buried behind her eyelids. But instead of giving up, she unlocked a newfound conviction that would obliterate any opponent. She would make it out of the Mors World alive, and no one would get in the way. Not Isla, not Janus, and most definitely, not Charlotte.
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