Ticket to Hell (Part II of IV)
by Loucinda McGary

"Merlin Jones! Yes, you heard right! C'mon down and see Uncle Rob Jobs to claim your prize, honey!"

Tony slumped forward in abject defeat. Jake didn't envy him the confrontation with Lena. Obviously, Tony wasn't anxious to see her either. As Jake pulled to a stop in front of Tony's house, his partner looked like one of those wooden marionette dolls with all his strings cut.

"Hey, itíll be all right," Jake started to say, but over the top of him Uncle Rob Jobs kept yelling.

"Thatís right, Merlin Jones! I need YOU to high-tail it down here to the radio station. Yes, Merlin Jones, YOU!"

The third time the annoying announcer shouted out the winner's name, Tony bolted upright, a strangely blank expression on his face. With jerky movements, he removed his seat belt, opened the car door and got out.

"You okay, buddy?" Jake asked.

He started to take off his own seat belt when he spotted Lena open the front door and step over the threshold. Jake wasn't about to wade into the middle of that one, so he put the car in gear. Just as he did, a call came over the police radio. He punched Uncle Rob Jobs into silence so he could hear the dispatcher.

"All units in the vicinity of the Netherwood Research Facility, please respond. Assault in progress."

So what if he was technically off duty in five minutes? Netherwood was less than a half mile away. He picked up the mic and responded. "Unit 122 responding. I'm there."

"Unit 122 proceed with caution," the dispatcher replied. "Subject may be armed and dangerous."

"Copy that." Jake said, and drove off with a squeal of tires.


      
"Merlin Jones! Yes, you heard right! C'mon down and see Uncle Rob Jobs to claim your prize!"

Merlin stared at Wally's boom box in disbelief. This had to be a mistake. Wally was right, she was probably the only person in town who had not bought a ticket. No way could she be the winner.

"M-Merlin?" Wally stammered, her eyes round as saucers.

Her dust mop fell out of her hand and clattered to the floor as Uncle Rob Jobs continued to carry on. Suddenly, her eyes took on a glazed appearance and she staggered toward Merlin making a strange wheezing sound.

"Wally? Wally, whatís wrong?" Merlin gasped, and then her friend's outstretched hands wrapped around her neck.

Reacting instinctively, Merlin pried at Wally's fingers while she kicked her hard and swift in her chubby kneecap. Wally let go and crumpled to the floor with a grunt of pain.

All the while, Uncle Rob Jobs' voice kept screeching out of the boom box, "C'mon down, Merlin Jones! You know you want to! I'm talkiní to YOU, Merlin Jones!"

Merlin yanked her cell phone out of her pocket, but there was no signal down here in the basement. With a curse, she dashed around a work table full of beakers, test tubes and petrie dishes to the nearest phone, which happened to be mounted on the wall. Punching up an outside line, she hit 9-1-1.

Meanwhile, Wally was back on her feet. Still glassy eyed, she limped toward Merlin, her dust mop clenched in both hands like a medieval pike.

"I need the police!" Merlin cried to the emergency operator. "I'm at the Netherwood Research Facility and my co-worker just attacked me!"

She dropped the receiver and leapt out of the way as Wally lunged for her with the wooden shaft of the dust mop.

Keeping the table between them, Merlin tried to reason with her suddenly homicidal friend. "It's a mistake Wally! You know I didn't buy a ticket."

"I mean YOU, Merlin Jones!" Uncle Rob Jobs chanted. "Get down here now!"

Wally thrust the dust mop handle across the table top, sending test tubes and petrie dishes flying to the floor.

"Stop it, Wally! I mean it!" Merlin commanded, but she couldn't control the note of hysteria from leaking into her voice.

As she backed away from the menacing handle, she stepped on a petrie dish, causing her foot to skid out from under her. She went down hard on her rear end and just sat there on the polished tile floor, momentarily stunned.

"C'mon, Merlin Jones, I'm talkin to YOU!"

Dust mop poised to strike, Wally lumbered toward her. Merlin skittered backward like a crab. Her fingers encountered something hard and plastic. Something with a handle. Getting a good grip, she sprang up and swung her make-shift weapon at her adversary.

THWACK!

The end of the boom box connected with the side of Wally's head. The unfortunate woman crashed to the floor like a brick building in a seven point five quake, while the boom box shattered into pieces.

Merlin stared at the handle still clutched in her fingers. Jagged pieces of plastic and spaghetti strands of wires dangled from what was left, while blessed silence reigned for all of thirty seconds. Then she dropped to her knees next to the fallen woman.

"Wally?" she sobbed, noting with relief that her co-worker's chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm, though a large purple bruise was spreading near her ear.

Wally was out cold.

As Merlin rose unsteadily to her feet, from somewhere overhead she heard the wail of a police siren.

Read more: Act III   Act IV


Note: The author, Loucinda McGary, retains all rights to this story.