Round Robin!

Okay, so for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a round robin is a writing excercise in which one person begins a story, and another person adds to it, and another, so on and so forth. Entries should be at least three paragraphs, but no more than ten.

I figured we're mostly writers here. Let's give one a shot.

Untitled Round Robin Take One


The morning sun beamed through the window, casting light against the closet door, which was covered with pictures. Slowly, the shadows began to dance, treading carefully down the side of the closet door and over onto the headboard of the bed.

In the bed, a young lady snoozed heavily as she lay sprawled out across the bed. The covers had been pushed off the bed during the night as she tossed and turned. Her shoulder-length red hair was messy, evidence of her rough night of sleep.

When the sunlight that had invaded her room finally started to move across her face, Megan Locksley woke up.

As her yawn escaped her thin lips she tried to open her eyes. The bright sunlight forced her to blink as she tried in vain to suppress the slight nauseating feeling that this sudden overexposure caused her.

As her gaping mouth finally closed and her eyes adjusted to the abundant light, a vile stench invaded her dry throat. The aftertaste of the alcohol she, so happily, consumed last night had finally caught up with her and was forcing her to wrinkle her face in disgust.

She couldn't remember anything.

Megan gazed wide-eyed at the stranger, a man. Much of the grogginess left her as shock crashed in her gut like fine china shattering on the floor.

Oh. My. GOD.

Her slim hand clamped over her mouth to suppress a panicked squeal when the stranger stirred with a groan and turned his mopped-head in her direction. He was a long man--or tall rather, but the way he lay on the floor made Megan think of the word 'long'; like he didn't fit in her room somehow. "He doesn't fit in more ways than one," a snarky part of her said, untouched by this alarming situation.

His mousy brown hair brushed the closet door, and his dirty bare feet touched the giant teddy bear on the other end of the room--the one her ex-boyfriend had given her last year. He looked to be in his thirties, with molted, filthy clothing and a faint smell of alcohol and urine about him. He had a square, lined face and unruly eyebrows with a large but contoured nose. ...And now he was snoring.

Oh boy. She had a homeless man in her room.

Megan, who had been sitting on her rear with legs partially bent, scuttled backward toward the door as quickly as she could. She had to call someone. Maybe her older brother? No, no, the police! But what could she say? "Yes, hello? 911? Can you please come and save me from the consequences of my alcoholic splurging last night?"

CRAP. How did she get herself into these messes?

There was no way she could handle talking to the police on her own; she should call Jake first. He always seemed to know what to do when things got out of hand, when she got out of hand.

"When you're lost, call someone who knows how to find you," she whispered to herself.

Megan repeated her father's words--his prescribed mantra--as she carefully pulled her pants off the foot of the bed and retrieved her cell phone from the pocket.

She scrambled to her feet and darted from the room, barreling down the stairs and out the front door. She could feel the familiar pounding, suffocating panic building in her chest as she dialed her brother's number.

"When you're lost..." she whispered, struggling to keep a hold of herself.

"Jake? Jake, it's me. I need you." Megan felt herself slipping as she spoke, the words tumbling out of her before she lost them. "There's a man. I was drunk. I don't know what to do, Jake, I'm drowning. I need you."

She hung up and her front porch and tiny yard came into focus, making her realize how exposed she was. There was no way she could stay out here, but she definitely couldn't go inside. She was trapped.

Megan gasped for air--it felt like someone was standing on her chest. Her heart was pounding, her head swimming, and she couldn't breathe.

"I'm dying," she thought. "Jake, I need you."

It would only take Jake a couple of minutes to get to Megan's house if he hurried, but as always, time seemed to stand still in these situations. Not that she found herself in this kind of situation often, mind you.

As she waited for her savior, she calmed down a little as the initial shock of the morning started to fade. Perhaps she was overreacting? How dangerous could a sleeping homeless person be, anyway?

"If sleeping was the only thing he did through the night," Megan murmured silently to herself. She desperately tried to think about something else, as that last notion made her stomach churn in disgust.

She turned her attention to her immediate surroundings. The morning sunrise cast a serene light upon the scenery, giving her patch of disheveled and unkempt garden a calming feel to it. It was quite cold, however, and she cursed herself for running outside in nothing but her underwear.

She didn't get much time to think about that though, as Jake's car finally arrived.

Megan looked up at Jake's car with a feeling of relief in her stomach, the stress in it moving up her neck and to her brain, making her head feel light. There was a moment she thought she'd faint as panic worked its way out of her body, but as Jake's car door slammed shut she was jarred back to reality to see him walking up to her.

"You all right, kiddo?" he said, eyes bright but brows worried. He still had that weirdly innocent look, especially in his plain, logoless white shirt and well-washed jeans, like he belonged on the cover of a Christian rock album standing with some identical guys in a rocky landscape with faces turned towards the sun.

"Jake, I'm so- I'm so sorry!" she said, the last word breaking down into a near sob as she collapsed in on herself. In a flash Jake was crouching next to her, hands on her shoulders, consoling her.

"Shh. Shh. It's okay. It's fine. You're going to be fine."

"There's- there's a man in there and I don't know him and I don't know what to do-"

"Shhh." Jake repeated. "It's okay, I'll come in with you, you can show me, I'm sure we can work things out. I can get the police in if we need to. I'm here now, it'll be okay."

She bit her lip to keep herself quiet, not bearing to let another sound out, and nodded quickly. Jake helped her to her feet, and with an arm over her shoulders, opened the door and stepped inside.

"Where is he?" Jake whispered, all sound feeling muted as the door shut behind them. Megan silently pointed towards the bedroom.

Walking in front of her like a human shield, Jake led the way into the bedroom. Megan's heart thumped as she prepared for the coming confrontation- she didn't know what to expect, but she couldn't let herself expect anything positive.

Jake stopped.

Megan blinked.

"So, uh." Jake waved his hand towards the empty, clean room. "I suppose the question I've got is obvious."

Megan opened and shut her mouth a couple times before sound came out. "I- I swear there was someone here! He was- I think he was homeless and the room smelled like him and it was horrible-"

"Well, he's gone now." Jake shrugged. "I mean, I guess. Maybe he slipped out- or is in some other room?"

Feeling that she wasn't being taken seriously, Megan's cold shivers of fear started to give way to the hot stiffness of embarassment. "He was here! I mean it! I had a homeless man in my room- god, I wish I hadn't-"

"It's okay, it's okay." said Jake again, pulling her towards him. "I believe you."

"No you don't." she said, petulantly now, feeling too nervewracked to be polite.

"No, no, really." he said. He pushed himself away slightly and grinned at her. "This is how it always goes on the shows. So and so has something show up around them all scary, it always seems to be out of sight when someone else is around, everyone thinks so and so is crazy."

Megan snorted, in spite of herself, her mood resisting the sudden urge to smile- which of course made it harder to actually stop.

"Oh! Oh? Oh, does she still have a smile?" Jake peered at her, head bobbing about like an examining doctor.

"You're silly." she said, shaking her head and trying to hide her face. "You watch too much TV."

"You can learn a lot from TV."

"That's- that's so-" and then it all came crashing down on her, the momentary smile acted like a breach in her emotional dam and the tears rolled out, the flood of horrible mixed up emotion swept down through her face. She pushed her face into Jake's shoulder and shook, body spasming with sobs that had been held in too long.

Jake held her, patting her on the back of the head, continuing to tell her things were fine, okay, all right, nothing was wrong, situation normal. And they looked like they were, the room was devoid of a stranger- the bed was even made, for goodness sakes-

"I need to go to the bathroom." she murmured, sniffing.

Having the good sense to grab a robe first, Megan wrapped it around her as she headed to do her morning business. The door opened as she reached for the handle, revealing a quite handsome and clean cut man. His hair was dripping wet and he wore nothing but a towel and a smile, smelling like her bath soap.

"Hey Megan. I made the bed and borrowed your shower, I hope you don't mind." He said.

This time she really did scream.

Jake burst around the corner, "Megan! Wha-" he started, soon realizing who this stranger was.

"Brad?" He said. "I thought you were dead!"

Brad merely looked back at Jake, a nonplussed look on his face.

"Riiiight, Jake," he said. "What have you been smoking and where can I get some?" He made an attempt to move forward, but Jake put his hand up, blocking his passage.

"Hold it right there," Jake said. He looked into Brad's eyes carefully. "Christ, you really are him," he said after a moment.

"Of course I'm me," he replied. "Who else would I be?"

"Brad?" Megan asked. She shook her head, ignoring the pounding from the night of heavy drinking. "How is this possible?"

"How is what possible?" Brad asked. "Why I'm here? You were pretty hammered last night, so I don't blame you for not remembering. If it's such a big deal, I'll leave. Carrie should be awake by now, and I lost my keys somewhere so I couldn't have gotten into the house."

"You just hold on right there," Jake said. He looked angry, and pumped his fist like he was ready to punch Brad. "She's been put through enough, Brad."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Brad asked.

"Brad," Megan said. "You... you've been dead for almost a year."

"Oh get off of it," Brad said. He went to push Megan out of the way, but Jake barred his path once again. "I was just at your birthday party on Saturday. If I've been dead a year, then--"

"Brad, my birthday's not for another week, and Megan's serious," Jake replied. "We were at the funeral. Hell, Carrie even had to identify the body. So unless you sit down and explain to us exactly what's going on, you're not going anywhere." He looked Brad in the eye, issuing the challenge. "You get me?"

Brad looked unconvinced, but he nodded. "Yeah, I get you." He slid past Jake and Megan, looking for a place to sit. He thought about the bed, but decided the chair by her desk would be more politic at this point.

Megan stood there, staring at him. Her face was awash in confused emotions. Her head still pounded from the night of drinking and the earlier panic of the morning. Now, to see Brad...she just couldn't take it. She sank down on the edge of the bed, looking at him.

Brad looked from Jake to Megan. "Well either this is a joke in extremely poor taste, or some of us have gone round the bend. Now, why don't you explain to me why you think I've been dead. What exactly do you think happened to me?"

Jake shook his head and looked to the floor. "This is insane..."

"Just tell me," Brad said, his good mood obviously washed away.

"It's..." Megan started, but halted, biting at her fingernails. She'd promised herself she would kick that habit, but she couldn't help herself. "Remember Jake's birthday party?" she finally said, meekly.

Brad nodded. "On Saturday." He shot Jake a quick glance. "Yesterday." Jake didn't say anything, if he even noticed the gesture at all.

Megan sighed, before continuing. "I got a lift with you, back to my place, here I mean--"

"--because you were hammered!" Brad cut her off.

Megan, annoyed at this, raised her voice as she continued. "And then you were supposed to go back to Carrie's place!"

"But you smashed into the wall of the uptown tunnel before getting that far," Jake finished, staring at the floor. He then looked Brad dead in the eye. "That was one year ago, Brad."

"Bullshit!" Brad exclaimed.

"This isn't funny anymore you two!" Brad shouted, standing up. "I'll prove I'm right."

He shoved past the pair, making his way downstairs and out the front door before they could do anything to stop him.

By the time Megan and Jake had picked themselves up off the floor and made it to the porch, Brad wasn't in sight. They spent a few minutes looking around the sides of the house, finding nothing.

Silence hung heavily in the air throught their search until suddenly, from behind the house came shouting.


The voice was shrill, female. It sounded like Mrs. Colby, Megan's elderly neighbour. Jake and Megan wasted little time in getting around to the back of the house. Brad stood there, naked as a jaybird. He was trying to hide behind a large bush, but it didn't matter. Mrs. Colby had already gotten a good view from her side of the fence.

"I forgot about the towel," he admitted sheepishly.

"Megan, I do hope you'll have the good grace to inform your friend here that this is America, and we don't wander around in the nude in this neighbourhood."

Jake quickly grabbed the towel and took off his jacket, handing them both to Brad. "Here," he said. "How about you get back inside and change before you go wandering off? What were you doing back here?"

Brad took the towel and wrapped it around himself. He pointed to a small tree in the corner of the yard. "I helped plant that," he said. "About a month ago, with Megan and Carrie. There's no way it could have grown that much in a month." He looked to Megan, then to Jake. "Christ, this is really happening, isn't it?"

Megan walked up to Brad and placed a hand on his back. "You should come inside," she said.

"I need to talk to Carrie," Brad said.

"I don't think that's such a good idea, Brad," Jake said.

"She's my wife! I want to talk to her."

Megan and Jake looked at each other, then to Brad.

"What? Why are you looking at me like that?"

"Carrie's... she's moved on. It took her almost nine months to get over it," Megan explained.

"Well, then she should be happy to see me," Brad said.

"She's seeing someone, Brad," Jake admitted.

Brad looked stricken. "Seeing someone..?" he finally said, his eyes fixed on Jake, who only nodded at this.

Megan couldn't even do that. Brad's expression was just too much to bear. Instead she found herself staring at Mrs. Colby, who was obviously straining herself to hear something to gossip about. Megan sighed and turned her attention back to Jake and Brad.

"Come inside again, Brad," Jake said, guiding Brad in the direction of the porch. Brad followed, but he had a blank look in his eyes, as if his mind was elsewhere.

Megan waited until the two of them was out of earshot, before turning towards Mrs. Colby again. "You gonna stand there long, Mrs. Colby? Don't you have something better to do, some kids to devour?" It was a bit excessive, maybe, but she couldn't stand the way that old lady nosed about. Mrs. Colby just snuffed at her, before turning back to whatever it was she had originally planned to do that morning.

As Megan returned to the porch, she could see Jake leaning on the door, a concerned look on his face.

"Where'd Brad go?" Megan asked, her voice sounding small even to her.

Jake rubbed the back of his head and gestured vaguely behind him. "Brad went and shut himself in the bathroom. I guess he's getting dressed."

"He hasn't got anything else but those dirty of clothes of his. Have you got something in your car maybe...?"

"No. I don't."

Megan bit her lip and looked out toward the street, as if expecting to see the answer to the question that was on both of their minds on the sidewalk.

Brad. It was Brad. She hadn't recognized him, lying next to her bed as he was. He seemed like a bum--a man she hardly knew. Then a moment in the shower and he looked like himself again. Brad. It was BRAD.

The redhead shook her head and pressed the bridge of her nose. "If only I could remember something," she sighed, "Then it'd explain why he showed up the way he did."

"If you'd quit that drinking like I told you," Jake began, a hint of anger in his voice--but he closed his eyes and let out a rush of air. He looked at Megan with an apologetic gaze. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that."

"Yes you did." Megan said to her brother. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other and placed her hands on her hips. "I've been trying to keep it together since dad died, but..." her voice trailed away, and she felt her eyes burn.

Jake was the strong one, the level-headed and responsible one. Not her. She always seemed to be screwing things up. Now the answer to the mystery before them rested in her alcohol-induced amnesia. "It doesn't make any sense. It's like Brad's been in a coma and just woke up now, here in my house," Megan mumbled, hoping to redirect the conversation.

This question tickled her mind, and the young woman frowned slightly as she tried to make sense of it all. Wouldn't Brad have found it strange waking up at Megan's house, regardless of the reason? Furthermore, when did Brad ever drink to the point that he was unable to get home? Even a carefree Brad would've called a taxi to return home to his wife Carrie, whom he loved more than anything. It was all too strange.

"What was the last thing you remember?" Jake asked, his gaze fixed intensely on his sister.

Megan shrugged one shoulder and scratched the side of her head. "I went to The Glow, that bar downtown that just opened up a month ago. They were having a special on drinks and I had a bad day so..." she shrugged again, not looking at her brother.

"So you don't remember a damned thing, do you?" Jake said.

"I remember a cue ball," she said. "And something about Teletubbies, but nothing concrete." She rapped her chin. "Wait. I remember something else. There was this guy there, he was really weird."

"Was it Brad?"

Megan shook her head. "Not unless he's six-four and blond. No, it wasn't Brad, it was this really cute guy, but he was weird. He was dressed funny, and he had this really cool cane that glowed under the blacklight."

"I hardly think that matters," Jake said.

"No, no," Megan said. "I think it does. I think I have..." She suddenly ran into the other room and fished through her jacket pockets. A moment later, she returned carrying a business card. She handed it to Jake, who read it.

"Megan, all this says is 'Mystery,'" he said, turning the card over. "What the--"

"Why's Brad taking so long?" Megan asked, interrupting him.

Jake stared back at her blankly for a moment, then looked to the bathroom, his eyebrows raised. He wasted little time in getting to the door. He knocked. "Brad? You in there?"

There wasn't an answer. Jake forced the door open and stopped.

"Dammit," Jake said. "The bastard took off out the window."

"Get in the car, Megan. I think I know where he's going." Jake was already on his way out the front door, heading towards his car.

Megan followed, but made sure to lock her door as she left. It was obvious where Brad had run off to, but she asked anyway. "Carrie's place?" she said as she entered the car, buckling herself in next to Jake.

Jake nodded. "Of course. But she lives almost on the other side of town. We should be able to catch him before he reaches her." He started the car.

"You make it sound like it's a really bad thing."

"It is a bad thing!" Jake exclaimed. "Think of Carrie, Megan, or did you drink so much that you forgot how devastated she was after the incident as well?" he paused, a pained expression on his face. "Look, I'm sorry, I--" he sighed. "Could you tell me more about this man you met?"

"Not really," she said. "I know he's there all the time, though. Some girls were talking about it last night." She shook her head. "Jake, my head hurts. Let's just do one thing at a time, okay?"

Jake shot a glare at her. "We need to fix this, you know," he said. "Whatever it turns out to be, it needs to be fixed."

"What, Jake? Are you suggesting we kill him?" Megan asked. She looked offended.

"Well, no. I mean, if he's already dead, then... well, it wouldn't be murder, right?" He shook his head.

"No, Jake. We're not going to kill him. It's still Brad either way. We need to find out what happened. We need to find him and--"

"And then what?" Jake asked. "Keep him locked up in a basement? Keep him in a cage the rest of his life? Unlife. Whatever."

"He's not a zombie, Jake," Megan said.

"How do you know? Have you ever met a real zombie?" Jake shot back.

"Do zombies run like that?" Megan asked, pointing out the window. Jake paid attention to where she was pointing. It was Brad, and he'd noticed them. They were still three blocks away from Carrie's place, but Brad had started jumping fences in the neighbour's back yards.

"We need to make it to Carrie's before he does," Jake said. "But I haven't the faintest idea what to do once we get there."

"I've got a plan," Megan began.

"Drop me off at Carrie's," she said. "Then you double back and try to stop him from getting to her house; even if he doesn't stop, at least you might slow him down to give me some time."

"Time for what? What are you gonna do?"

"I'm going to make sure Carrie isn't home when Brad gets there."

Jake looked unconvinced. "Uh-huh, and just how do you expect to make her drop everything and leave with you?" he asked as Megan got out of the car.

"Girl thing," she smirked and slammed the car door behind her.

"Whatever," Jake muttered as he pulled away. "Now I just hope that dead people don't have much time to work out."

Megan stepped up to Carrie's house and took a deep breath before knocking on the door.

"Who is it?"

"Carrie, it's me," Megan called. Then, working a tremble into her voice, she added, "I need to talk to you."

The door opened, "What's up?" Carrie started, then saw the look on Megan's face and switched to her sympathy voice. "Oh sweetheart, what's the matter?"

"It's just... I'm so..." Megan stammered. Shit, she cursed herself. Why didn't I think of something before? Great plan. She covered her hesitation with sobs and incomprehensible gibberish while she tried to think of a way to get Carrie out of the house.

"I-I don't know what to do!" Megan managed to choke out between her sobs. "S-s-someone was lying on my floor this morning, a-a-and I don't remember what happened l-l-last night. I think he might've done something to me. I tried to call the p-p-police but my phone was out and my car was out of gas and I didn't know where else to go!"

"Oh my god Megan," she said, taking the crying woman into her arms. "Let me get my things and we'll get you to the hospital." Perfect thought Megan as she stood in the doorway.

"Hey Frank!" She heard Carrie scream as the woman returned to the door with her car keys in hand. "Watch the baby! I have to take Megan to the hospital!"


Brad ducked down behind the bushes across the street from Carrie's house-- his house. He couldn't quite explain what was going on, but he felt that it was important to see Carrie. For himself. For verification of Jake and Megan's claims.

Mostly, however, it was so he could see a friendly face that would at least be happy to see him.

It had been a few minutes since he'd seen Jake or Megan. After the close call, Brad had kept to the back yards and alleys. He hoped they'd given up.

He jumped out into the street and made a beeline for the gate that led into the back yard. A moment later, he was through the gate. His thought was to go in the back way to avoid Jake and Megan, should they still be lingering around.

What he didn't expect, however, was that Jake would already be there waiting for him.

"Don't do it, Brad," Jake said, coming out from underneath the patio.

Brad took an instinctive step back. "You can't stop me, Jake," he said, reaching to the ground and picking up a stone.

"What are you going to do with that? Throw it at me?"

Brad looked to the stone, then back to Jake. "No," he said. "I'm going to draw some attention." He then turned toward the house and lobbed it through a window, causing all sorts of ruckus as it went into the house. He went to give Jake a smug grin.

Jake was already on top of him, wrestling him to the ground and pinning him there.

"What the hell was that?" came a voice from inside. Jake recognized it immediately. From the renewed vigor with which Brad was struggling, he assumed Brad did too. Frank would be outside in moments. He had to think fast. After all, how would Jake have felt to discover his worst enemy had returned from the grave?