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Doomed (Secret Santa for thesneeze123) (Part 2/2) (Updated 12/01/14)


High on Lullabies

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Hello there, sorry this is a little late, but hope you like it smile.png Apologies if some of the Norwegian isn't quite right, I was kind of relying on Google Translate and my phrase book :blushing:. Anyway, here is the first bit and the denouement to follow very shortly!

Doomed (F)

Caroline should have known she was doomed from the moment she walked into the theatre. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable assumption that she wouldn’t need anti-histamines for a conference in Norway in November; but she’d reckoned without some helpful person liberally filling the front of the stage with a mix of heather and some other flower she didn’t recognise. Her stomach had twisted itself into what felt like a perfect reef knot the moment she’d seen them and caught the heady combination of aromas, setting off a tickle that crept through the back of her nose, its irritating tendrils caressing every sensitive lining and immediately wiping her mind of what she’d been silently reviewing and rehearsing on her way there.

She’d heard that apparently the President of the company himself had requested the flowers as a gesture of friendship to their Norwegian hosts (Heather and what was apparently something called Pyramidal Saxifrage, being the national flowers of Norway) and Caroline had decided it would be too risky to make too much of a fuss, but had at least managed to find herself a seat at the back of the hall, rather than in the front row alongside the other speakers and the company and government officials.

She sat in that seat now, swiping under her slightly upturned nose with a tissue to catch the occasional overspill of fluid, which the persistent and unsatisfied tickle had caused.

Her thoughts slipped back to the thin brown file in the black bag at her feet and the details of the original speaker whom she’d ambushed late last night in the hotel. The drug she’d given her would be wearing off soon but Caroline planned to be long gone by then. She adjusted the ID badge on her lapel, as if it being perfectly straight would make it seem more genuine and hide the ever increasing efforts of her body to reveal her deception.

She knew when she accepted this mission that she wasn’t the ideal candidate, but her near-perfect physical resemblance to her target and ability to speak fluent Norwegian had been enough for her superiors to overlook the only part of that file that immediately leapt off the page to Caroline; the line that said ‘Allergies: NONE’.

The hall was now filled and the company President was on stage, droning through formalities. She blinked through a couple of allergic tears at the screen behind and saw the name she’d stolen for the day just below the opening address currently in progress. Whipping out a fresh tissue, she brought it to embrace her nose and blew; softly at first and then, in a vain attempt to clear the already accumulated pollen, as hard as she dared. Her nasal passages seemed to vibrate as she did this, spreading the tickling that lain dormant at the back of nose for the past few minutes to every corner. Caroline gripped the tissue tighter around her nose and tried to slip down a little into her seat before the inevitable explosion. A couple of quick hitches caught in her throat before the sneeze managed to half-burst the seal made by her paper-covered fingers.

“Heh...hih...heh-txK-chuh!”

Immediately she was sat upright again, scanning the room as much as her eyes would allow while continuing facing the speaker. No-one seemed to have paid her any mind. “One sneeze probably wouldn’t look out of place anyway” she surmised hopefully.

Caroline’s relief was short-lived as the President had by the time decided that he’d bored his audience enough.

“...and so it gives me great pleasure to welcome our first speaker to the stage, Dr. Kari Østervold.”

The room exploded into polite applause as Caroline stood, eased her way out into the aisle and slowly headed for the stage. With each step she tried to steel her mind and, as best she could, her nose for the torture to come. Sunlight poured in through windows high on the auditorium walls, glinting off the silver boxes which held the piles of white and purple blooms. The boxes seemed to be winking knowingly at Caroline as she approached. The sweet scent was getting stronger too, having been barely noticeable at the back of the room. Each step closer to the stage seemed a step closer to the edge of the allergic cliff she was on, tumbling down which would both blow her cover and make her escape that much more difficult.

She was approaching the stage now, the applause slowly dying away to expectant silence. Caroline felt her nostrils starting to fill with fluid again and she snuffled uncomfortably as the tickling resumed its rhythm in the back of her nose. As she climbed the short flight of stairs to the podium, she carefully scanned the lectern. It was made of pine or some similar light-coloured wood and there was a small handle around waist level. The compartment this opened would, assuming the agency’s intelligence was correct, hold her objective; A USB flash drive holding a wealth of information, much of it sensitive and none meant to be shared with anyone outside the room she currently stood in. The challenge would be removing the drive from the palmtop computer in the cupboard without anyone noticing. Caroline’s original plan had been to do this at the end of her presentation when the audience’s applause would mask the noise of the theft. The stage front flora now meant that plan was most likely a non-starter. She’d have to think of something else.

She’d reached the lectern now, her head starting to swim a little in the ocean of sweet scent. Her eyes by now felt like they had grains of sand coating them, her nose starting to burn and hyper-sensitive to the touch. She ran a finger under her round, up-turned nostrils to hold back a potential overspill and felt them twitch against the skin while at the same time her breath caught in her throat, threatening to hitch. With a wrench of will she brought it under control and drained a good half of the glass of water that was sat ready on the edge of the lectern.

She took a deep breath and began, cringing inside at how her voice sounded:

God morgen, damer og herrer

The presentation itself was in English, so Caroline just had to remember to maintain her Nordic accent as she spoke.

It started quite well and she was able to rattle through the first few slides, with just a few well-placed sniffles to stem the flow from her nose as talking seemed to temporarily overwhelm the ever present urge to sneeze.

However, as she moved into the second half of the talk, it got more difficult. All the time she was talking, more and more pollen was being drawn up into her nose, while none was being allowed to escape. Caroline felt her throat tightening, words becoming airy as her body desperately tried to rid itself of the golden menace. As a last line of defence she brought a hand to her face and quickly, gently massaged the bridge of her nose. Her fingers, still cold from the water glass, seemed to slow the reaction down a little and she took advantage of this by concentrating all her efforts on the lectern.

She gripped the handle and slid the door up quickly, hoping the sound wouldn’t travel too far and, managing with some difficult to keep her tearing eyes on her audience, fumbled with one hand inside the enclosure. Distracted by this additional task, her allergies finally boiled over and with barely any warning two great sneezes cut her current sentence in half, her free hand barely having time to cover her mouth and nose.

“The results of this areh...eh...HAH-ISHHHH! HEH-ISHHAH!...quite interesting”

She straightened up following the twin explosions and suddenly noticed two tall, burly looking men who had appeared on the far side of the auditorium. They were dressed in black suits and sunglasses and were watching her intently. Caroline quickened her hand’s examination of the alcove and at that moment found her target. A satisfying click removed the USB stick and she quickly slipped it into a pocket sewn into the inside of her skirt. It was time to go.

As the dark-suited men started towards her from the side of the hall, she stammered an excuse through hitching breaths and turned to leave the stage.

“heh...Unnskyld...hih...”

Another sneeze barrelled out of her as she picked her way down the stairs as fast as she could, totally uncontrolled and uncovered, it nearly caused her to fall with its ferocity.

“heh...HAH-ISHHH!”

She pressed on, bursting through the double doors and out into the cool, bright hallway, the two agents hounding her every step as she went.

~TBC~

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:blushing: Thanks so much, so very glad you like it :)

As promised, here is the second part:

Cooling waves of relief swept through Caroline’s blazing nostrils, seeming to increase in their intensity the more distance she put between herself and the conference hall. She moved as fast as she dared without attracting attention, silently cursing the fact that high-heels were de rigueur at these sorts of events. She couldn’t bring herself to look behind her but knew her pursuers would be closing with every step.

A flash of metal honed into view on the seemingly never-ending white wall of the long corridor she was in. Caroline’s nerve broke and she bolted for it, removing the shoes and sweeping them up in her right hand in one smooth movement. She scythed through the crowded hallway and reached the door with, she hoped, sufficient space for the agents not to see her apparent disappearance. The door was adorned with a name plate that said ‘kjøkkenbutikker’ roughly translated as ‘kitchen stores’; it would have to do. She tried the door, finding it to be thankfully unlocked and slipped inside.

With the door closed, it was suddenly impossible to see anything. The only light was that coming through the small gap under the door. Caroline felt slowly, carefully along the walls with her free hand. There were wooden shelves all along one side, which seemed to be filled with unidentifiable boxes and packages and bare brick on the other but apparently, no light switch. She stood, allowing her breathing to return to something like normality and her eyes to adjust as well as possible to the darkness. The surge of adrenaline from her temporary escape had helped dull the allergic reaction such that the itching of her eyes and nose was now barely noticeable.

She was starting to consider her next move when the soft buzz of conversations in the hall outside was suddenly drowned out by a pair of gruff voices, slightly out of breath:

“Can you see her?”

“No, lost her”

“Dammit!”

The sudden change in volume and recognition of her pursuers made Caroline jump and instinctively she backed away from the door towards the corner of the room and stumbling over a box hidden in the darkness. She almost fell, but managed to support herself by grabbing one of the shelves and just about stayed on her feet, keeping the noise of her accident to a minimum. But, as she tried to right herself, she felt her arm contact one of the containers, and a couple of seconds later a dull thud as it hit the floor.

Caroline held her breath, silently praying the relatively soft noise hadn’t carried through the wall. In the silence she heard the faint crackle of someone speaking over a radio, letting her know at least one of her enemies was still adjacent.

“Yes sir, we’ve covered all the exits, we’ll find her, don’t worry” the voice said.

As Caroline sighed in relief at the apparent lack of a response to the fallen container, a familiar spicy tang invaded her nostrils. It quickly got stronger and spread up through her nose starting to burn as it went. Her heart leapt and her stomach twisted fiercely as she realised the container must have held white pepper and its tumble from the shelf had released a decent cloud of the pungent spice into the air. Her breathing became shallow, her throat tight; a combination of fear and a burgeoning need to sneeze.

Knowing that succumbing to her nose’s desire would almost certainly mean she would be caught; Caroline gently rubbed under her nostrils, trying to soothe the burning tickle that was growing stronger all the time. She quickly felt her way back towards the door. The spicy aroma was less at that end of the small room, but still noticeable and she knew that every grain of pepper that invaded her nose made it less likely she’d be able to stop herself sneezing.

As if seizing on this doubt, the sensation in her nose surged and Caroline suddenly felt right on the edge of losing control. In a desperate attempt to save herself, Caroline held her breath and pinched her nostrils shut; her slightly sweaty fingers sliding over the smooth, hot skin on the bridge and sides of her nose. She closed her eyes and tried to forget her situation, pouring all her will into overcoming the urge to sneeze.

After what seemed like minutes, she slowly felt the need dissipate a little and confident enough to let her breath out slowly. The scent of pepper still hung in the air all around her and with her nose still tickling furiously; Caroline knew she’d have to escape this room soon to avoid capture and the ignominy of failure. But was the agent still outside waiting? Caroline moved quickly to the door, and pressed her head against it, listening carefully for any sign that the enemy was still present. Nothing, just the same soft buzz of chatter from before.

With her concentration bent on trying to determine if it was safe, the spice-laden air came within a whisker of overwhelming her defences again. The tickling in her nose spiked and her breath came in a sudden gasp as her body desperately tried to expel the tortuous grains.

“...Hehh...”

Caroline’s hand immediately gripped her nose tight, desperately trying to hold off the sneeze. The shock of the sudden physical intervention seemed to ease the pressure for a moment but this time her body was not to be denied. Feeling the need surge through her nostrils once more, Caroline brought her other hand to cover her mouth to try and muffle the sound as much as possible:

“Heh...Heh-Tkxkt!”

Her torso wrenched forward slightly as she sneezed, and instantly another deep inhalation led to two further sneezes:

“Heh-TK-chh!, Heh-TKX-Chhh!”

Each explosion was more difficult to completely contain as she prevented her body from expelling the accumulated pepper and there was no respite. Every time she sneezed, the pressure seemed to well up unstoppably inside her nose until she had no choice but to sneeze again. Caroline gritted her teeth as stifling became painful:

“heh-txK-chuh, Heh-KRgx-shh!”

Under repeated, and ever more desperate sneezing fits, her attempts at suppression finally failed:

“Heh-TK-chh! TXK-Chff! Heh-tshhh!”

Almost immediately the door opened and white light flooded the small room causing Caroline to blink repeatedly and adding further tears to those already streaking her face. Ragged hitching breaths racked her and, knowing escape was now impossible, she made no attempt to contain the sneezes that followed:

“Hih-ESHHH! Heh-ESHAH! ah...hah...HAH-TISHHH!”

The agent staggered back a little as the spice-filled atmosphere hit him full in the face, but by now Caroline’s control of her nose had completed deserted her and she could do little but stagger out of the room, successive sneezes bending her double:

“Hih-ISHHH! Heh-ESHHH!”

Two of them closed in on her. Strong hands gripped her forearms tightly and, with a final ferocious sneeze, she was dragged helplessly away.

~ The End ~

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Superb writing as always. :D And some very nice descriptions. :blushing:

I very much love what you have done with the story. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh yes - combining two of my favourites scenarios! Sneezing while hiding (of course...) and pepper sneezes (funny, these sneezes always seems a cliche, but pepper sneezes in fics are always exciting) Love the way she just loses control in Part 2 :D

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