Chance Encounter: A WordPress Interactive Novel (5 of 7)





As Susan casually manoeuvred her wheelchair, Jeanie jumped up as if there was a bomb under her seat. Nervously escorting Susan around the table, she scolded the waitress who was pouring water into Alex’s glass. “Out of the way! Can’t you see this disabled girl trying to get through?” The expression on her face was a mixture of triumph and annoyance, a sort of self-affimation that she managed to do something nice while everyone else just sat around being completely useless.

Again it was Sue who spoke. “Please, no fuss. It’s OK.” She glanced at Alex, who immediately understood the meaning of her look. “Don’t ever try to patronise my daughter. You’d count yourself lucky if she ever showed interest in you.”

After they all settled and ordered lunch, Alex decided to be straightforward and friendly. “So, what happened to you?” he asked Susan from across the table. Jeanie choked on the mouthful of water she just sipped.

“Oh, nothing. It’s just a bad day,” Susan laughed. “I took some students to the bank for some real-life experience. Unfortunately, some robbers also fancied getting some quick cash there.”

“Really?” Alex was impressed. “Did you beat them up or something?”

“No such luck,” Susan shook her head. “I was the one who got smashed up. At least no one else got hurt.”

Now that she said it, Alex remembered a news item his father once mentioned back at home. It featured a high school teacher who fought against three criminals during a bank robbery. In her attempt to fend off one of the men who tried to abuse her students, he shot her in the stomach and then splashed a can of petrol around. Why bank robbers needed petrol was anybody’s guess, but a cigarette butt easily tossed to the ground was enough to cause an explosive fireball that destroyed part of the building and thirty percent of her body. The students and bank staff escaped. So did the robbers, though empty-handed. Alex recalled how his father laughed at the news report that the criminals were forced to abandon their loots as the bags of money caught fire.

“Weren’t you scared?” Jeanie’s was horrified. “Poor thing. You must’ve been so trumatised!”

Susan shrugged. “Can’t help it. They’re grabbing my students left, right and centre.”

Alex waited until Jeanie shifted her attention to Peter, who by now had resumed his conversation with Robert and Sue. He then lowered his voice, asking purely out of curiosity: “What were you thinking at that moment? What did you see?”

Calmly, Susan looked straight at him. “I saw fear. I saw the dread in their eyes as they worried I would destroy their only chance to get rich. They didn’t expect a woman to disrupt their plans. The guy’s hands trembled so hard when he shot at me that he thought he completely missed the target. I guess that’s why they switched to petrol.”

“Sounds like you sympathise with them,” Alex smiled.

“It’s not sympathy I feel,” Susan reflected. She noticed her hands that were now grabbing her glass so tightly that the finger joints turned white, and visibly relaxed. “I pity them, that’s all. They have legs while I lost mine, but they’re the ones who have to run away forever. They can never sit down to have a quiet and relaxed lunch like we do.”

“Not in such an expensive restaurant, anyway,” Alex joked. They both rolled their eyes and burst out laughing.


Who do ou think Alex would choose to pursue as a girlfriend? (1) Susan, or (2) Emily? Please leave a message below. Your vote will determine the story’s development in the next 600 words.

The next chapter will be posted on February 26, Friday, at 8pm AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time, GMT+11). Voting begins right after the chapter is posted and ends at midnight AEDT the following Tuesday. The story will have a total of seven chapters, 64 possible endings.



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