Teresa at The Haunted Wordsmith began this Finish the Story. Teresa started with:
As soon as Liam read the advertisement, he knew the place was for him. Three-story newly renovated home on private island in the middle of Hidden Hollow Lake. Owner motivated to sell.
“I will have it!” He scanned the ad for a contact number and phoned it immediately. To his surprise, the agent said the house was his as soon as she answered the phone. “What do you mean the house is mine? I haven’t even made an offer yet.”
She laughed. “Mr. Owens, I have been instructed to sell the home to the first person who called, and today is your lucky day. I can meet you on the pier in an hour with your keys.”
“Oh… okay… yeah! Today really is my lucky day, isn’t it?”
Liam rushed around his tiny apartment, threw a few items into a backpack, and caught the train to the pier. Halfway expecting this to be a scam, he was gobsmacked when a professional-looking woman approached him, smiling.
“Mr. Owens, I presume?”
“Um, yeah, that’s me.”
“Good. Sign here, please, and I can release your keys to you.”
His hand shook with anticipation as he scratched his name on the form.
“And here are you keys. That man will take you to the island,” she said, pointing to a man in a small row boat. “Thank you for your business.”
He watched as she walked toward the parking lot and disappeared into the crowd. “How’d she know my name?”
“You ready?” the boatman called.
“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” He climbed into the row boat and took in the beautiful scenery before him, forgetting all about the sales agent. “This is really pretty, isn’t it?”
The man didn’t respond.
“Ok.” Liam sat in silence until the island came into view. It looked exactly as it had in the advertisement. He rubbed his eyes and pinched himself, convinced it was a dream.
“Get out here,” the boatman said, sternly as they reached the shore.
“Well, thanks, I guess.” Liam stepped out into knee-deep water and shivered as it soaked his pants. “How do I get back?” he asked as the boatman pushed away from the shore.
“There’s a flare in the house should you need it,” he called back, shaking his head.
Liam turned around and saw …
… a school of sharks swimming straight towards him! As a marine biologist, Liam knew it was unheard of for sharks to swim in a freshwater lake, even though he also knew a small canal connected Hidden Hollow Lake to the Atlantic at certain times of the year. Snapping his focus back to survival, his next thought was to run the 50 yards of knee-deep water before they nabbed him.
As Liam ran 10k every morning, it was no problem outpacing his sea-hunters – or so he thought. Even as his fleet feet touched dry sand he felt snapping jaws latch onto the sole of his shoe. Turning around, he saw a 2-foot tiger struggling to get a better grip on the rubber. Liam was blessed to see a piece of driftwood at hand. He grabbed it and beat the small shark on the head until it let loose and flip-flopped and rolled back into the water.
Unfortunately in his desperate run for his life, Liam had let go of his backpack. Even now he could see it bobbing farther away from shore. He thought of risking it and going back out, but he could see shark fins circling the pack. His wallet, phone, snacks, a few books, and a couple of changes of clothing were in there. His pockets were empty except for his trusty Swiss Army knife.
The boatman had said something about a flare if he needed it. What kind of place was this?
Liam took a deep breath and looked around. The house of his dreams was another 50 yards. As he got nearer, he saw that the curtains to the windows were open, as was the front door. Curiosity getting the better of him, he ran the final yards. Stepping onto the porch, he heard voices talking inside. Imagine his surprise when….
Paula at Light Motifs’ part:
….he found a bunch of people sprawled over sofas with laptops, iPads, and papers they periodically wadded up in disgust and flung in the corner.
“My agent was right!” moaned one woman. “This is all crap! Every word. I should have become a veterinarian instead.”
Oh no. Liam shrank back in horror. It was too awful to consider. Noooo!
A man stood up. “My poetry is top shelf. If these idiots can’t see that it’s because they’re sheep who want Hallmark card pap. But after I’m dead for another hundred years, well, then they’ll wish they’d appreciated me more.”
Liam’s heart raced with renewed terror. He’d been duped into buying the Ghost Writers’ Grievance Hotel! He’d have to take his chances with the sharks.
“Hey!” The ghost poet pointed at Liam. “Aren’t you that famous publisher’s kid?”
“Me?” Liam’s voice cracked.
The ghost writers started to float over to the doorway.
“It is him!”
“I saw his photo in the news with Mark Manson.”
“That blogger guy? That’s not real writing.”
“Yes, it is. My friend made thousands on her mommy blog and it was very funny too. Then they turned it into a book!”
“Ridiculous! I’m talking about timeless classics.”
Liam desperately searched for a way to escape these lunatics. But they were all around him now, yapping and jabbering. It was his worst fear.
And then one of them…
[now I tag Di at Pensitivity 101 to continue]