Cemetery Duty (part 3)

This is the continuation of my short story Cemetery Duty. Think of it as an old-school newspaper story, published in weekly pieces. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Two nights after the incident with Elektra’s Creepers, as I had started calling them in my head, I was making my rounds like usual. There were a few teenagers that fled at my amplified announcement, but otherwise it was quiet. 

I was nearing the center of the cemetery when, again, I heard voices. And the scrape of a shovel against the rocks. I was farther away this time, but it was coming from the same general direction as last time. I pulled my phone out of my pocket, looked at it for a moment. I did a quick scan of the area, and strained to hear what was happening. I closed my eyes, holding my phone in front of me. I blew out a breath, and texted.

“Backup. Elektra. Bring the Boss.”

I pushed my phone back into my pocket, knelt down, and checked the laces of my Chucks while continually scanning. I had to stay focused on the dinks that were apparently back, but I also had to make sure no one else had stuck around. 

I continued to spiral toward the area, but took even more care with my steps. One perk of being a fairly small person is how easy it is to stay quiet, as long as you aren’t an idiot. I paused occasionally, trying to gather information as I moved. I caught glimpses of them as I moved around the area. She had maintained her supervisory roll, it seemed, but this time she had two guys to take care of the manual labor. 

I hunkered down behind a gravestone just off the path of where reinforcements would be coming from. I had a decent line of sight in both directions. I didn’t want them to get too far along in their efforts, but I also knew three was going to be a whole lot tougher than two. 

I caught sight of the three guys coming to help after just a few minutes of waiting. I shifted to a tree that could conceal both me and Paul. The other two sent hand signals and split. Paul filled me in on the plan. I nodded, then silently but directly walked toward Elektra’s grave. 

“You guys must really like it here, huh?” I winked at the new guy when all of their heads jerked up. “And you even brought a friend. How nice.”

The girl smirked at me. “We won’t be here long. Run along before you get hurt.” She nodded at the new guy, and he started to climb out of the hole. 

I let my eyes go wide. I took a small step back and held up my hands. “I’m just doing my job. No need to get cranky.” I turned my head to look at her again. “Though it does seem to be your natural state, from what I can tell.” I thought I caught a small twitch of the big guy’s mouth, but then he started moving toward me, so I had other things to pay attention to. 

“Whoops.” I pretended to stumble, but managed to get closer to the girl. I saw flashes of Andy closing in from the left, which meant it was just about time to stop stalling. 

“This is who gave you so much trouble last time, Ash?” The big guy let out a big guy laugh in the form of a burst of air through his nose. 

“She’s small, but she hits hard, Drew.” The other guy from last time looked embarrassed, and defensive. Perfect.

“Would you two shut up and stop using names.” I didn’t need to see her teeth to know they were clenched tight as she spoke. “Just grab her.”

That was my cue.

I was still half bent, brushing at my knees. I launched myself at the big guy, my foot aimed for the side of his knee. He half went down, but he was tougher than the other guy, and more prepared. I made quick work of a knee to his kidney, and a quick jab to his jaw. He braced to come back at me, but I side-stepped and changed directions, now moving toward the girl. I knew Jerry, the boss man, was there to grab him. Paul had just come out to grab the girl as she stepped away from me. The other guy just held up his hands as soon as he saw Andy coming for him. Maybe he was smarter than I had thought. 

It went from three on one to four on three in a matter of moments, and with no major injuries. 

“Nice work, guys. Glad you could make it.”

They all shrugged while holding their new friends in place. 

Boss man Jerry hadn’t even rumpled his boss man suit. Impressive. “I haven’t had this much fun in a while. Though you didn’t really leave much for me to do.” He grinned and held fast when the big guy gave a quick struggle at the reminder. “This is the final work for the evening, is that right?”

I looked at him, caught his meaning. “Yes, Sir. This is it for tonight.” No freshies. 

“Good. You can stay and help. I think we’ll do the interview right here.” He looked over at the other two responders. “Cuffs on, then just sit them on the edge of the grave, would you?” 

The girl tried to jerk out of Paul’s grip as he helped her sit. It didn’t work. The three sat on the edge of the partially dug grave, and we circled around so I was standing behind the girl, Paul and Andy were behind the dudes, and Jerry was facing us all. 

“So.” He folded his arms. “Grave robbing. Again. I heard about you two.” He tilted his head at the originals. “Looks like you decided to up your game. Didn’t work so well, did it?” He looked around at all of them, taking his time. “What were you hoping to find?” His eyes rested on the girl. “Ash, is it? Or Ashley? What are you looking for, Ashley? No one comes back here after they’ve been caught once. It’s just not smart.” He kept his gaze on hers.

She tried her best to look pissed instead of scared. I gave her a four out of five on performance. She’d obviously had some practice at being bitchy. “We aren’t looking for anything. Just curious about Elektra.” She pursed her lips, cocked her eyebrow. “People always say how much we look alike, you know.”

I couldn’t help it. I snorted. 

She turned her head to look at me. “Maybe not my face, okay? Or hair. Whatever. My build.” She drew the word out. 

I grinned. “Okay.” I winked at her. I nodded. “We’ll go with that.” 

Jerry looked at me. “You finished?” 

“Yes, Sir.” But I was still smiling.

He straightened his suit, then began. He asked the usual questions. He would throw in random questions to throw them off their rhythm. The first guy, Jim, gave up the most, but even that was minimal. I had a feeling the girl was the only one that actually knew anything of value. And she was doing a good job of answering without answering. 

Finally, Jerry nodded to the three of us. “Okay. I think we’re done.” After we helped the dips to their feet, he started to lead us all to the closest exit. 

“Now, I hope I can trust you all to stay away from here. There’s nothing for you here. Find a new hobby.”

The three of us uncuffed them and stepped back. 

Before Ashley could speak, the big guy, Drew, made a wise choice. “Let’s go.” He grabbed both of them by the arm and led them across the street. Ashley kept looking over her shoulder, and trying to jerk her arm free. He just shook his head, and kept his grip. 

We all stood there, watching them walk away.

“I think they’ll be back.” I bounced up and down on my toes, a nervous habit of mine. “Right?”

Jerry turned and looked at me. “We’ll see them again. Just not here. Not if I can help it.” He looked at Paul and Andy. “I got mine. Did you get yours?” 

“Easy, boss. They were clueless.” Andy’s smile was a mile wide.

Paul, serious as always, nodded. “Of course.”

“What are you talking about?” 

They all turned to look down at me. Even Andy. It wasn’t fair, I thought. Even short guys look down on me. They all grinned. 

“Nice work tonight, Jo.” Jerry put his arm around my shoulders as we started to walk back toward the shed. He filled me in as we walked.

To be continued…

Please leave comments and critiques! I love hearing what you have to say. ❤

Cemetery Duty (part 2)

This is part 2 of my story Cemetery Duty. Find part one here.

As I finished the last few passes, quicker than I typically would, I caught glimpses of Paul and Andy talking with the failed grave robbers. They were likely asking the usual questions, and the two idiots were probably giving the standard answers. On my final lap, I let out a breath when I passed by again. They were gone. That was good. I glanced at my watch. I was only about 2 minutes behind schedule. Not bad, all in all, but now the real work began.

I half-jogged to the shed, and grabbed the bags. One for each. I put two packs on. Hardly comfortable, but necessary. When you’re only 5’2” and barely pushing 110 pounds after eating Thanksgiving dinner, you learn to adapt. I was stronger than I looked, but still. I wedged my flashlight in between the straps on my right shoulder. Then I slung the remaining three packs over my left shoulder, and grabbed the giant insulated bag with my right hand. I hustled back out and began.

During my rounds, before the incident, I had mapped out the order I would treat the freshies in. It was a good way to pass the time, and I was feeling really glad about that. Blessedly, only one was totally new at this, so I knew I could hurry through the others. He would be my final stop, since he would need so much more attention. 

 I stopped at the first. He was just starting to work his way up through the dirt. 

I set the insulated pack down, took off one of the packs, and started efficiently setting everything out. 

A towel, a blanket, a pack of baby wipes, a nail file, and two bottles of water. 

Finally, I opened the insulated bag, and pulled out the box with his name on it and set it next to the pile.

It was the same at the next three. Unpack, move on. The third and fourth were waiting for me when I got to them, and they both reached quickly for the towel while I set everything else out. Number three snatched the towel from my grip. Number four was a lot nicer. He seemed more anxious for the box than the towel. I just nodded at them both, and let them do their thing. 

The last one would be different. I hustled to him as soon as I had the insulated bag zipped back up. It was hard to know what his reaction would be. Some took it well, others didn’t. He was bound to be confused, but beyond that, it was anyone’s guess.

We hadn’t had a new one in quite a while, so I ran through the mental checklist for newbies while I moved. 

I slowed myself for the last few yards. He needed me to be calm, and not distracted by my own obnoxiously loud breathing. 

He had barely uncovered himself when I walked up. I blew out a final long breath as I closed the distance. He hadn’t noticed me yet. He was hurriedly brushing dirt off himself, and mumbling to himself. 

I cleared my throat, and he scrambled up and out of the hole faster than a… huh. I guess, as a superhero, there aren’t many things that move faster. Whatever. I’d think of something faster later.

His eyes were wide and wild, and he was still completely filthy. He stood there, fists clenched and game for a brawl, but his voice told a different story. 

“Who are you?” 

The quiver was minimal, but it was there. He was scared. Then again, who wouldn’t be? The first time you die, but don’t really die, since you don’t stay dead. You wake up, covered in dirt. Yeah. I’d be terrified, I thought.

“I’m Jo.” I paused, to let that sink in. “I’m the night guard.” I paused again, watching. Waiting for a sign of which way it was going to go. I had nearly crossed “runner” off my list. He looked like he was going to stay put, but it was too early to really rule anything out. 

Keeping my eyes on his, I set the insulated bag down. Slow and smooth, I reminded myself. Calm. I eased the final pack off my shoulders. His eyes tracked it as it slid down my arms and swung into my left hand. He took a half step back, automatically shifting into a ready stance. 

I slowly set the pack on the ground. I kept my eyes lifted, watching him watch me. I knelt down next to the pack. By feel, I unzipped it, and reached and pulled out the towel. 

“Here’s a towel if you want to clean off. It should take off most of the dirt.” Trying to make it seem like everything happening was perfectly normal, I stood back up then shrugged as I held out the towel. “There are a few other things in the pack, too.” 

His fist clenched then reached out. I could tell he was still ready to react to basically anything, but he hadn’t run, and he hadn’t attacked. I dropped my gaze to the insulated bag, then moved over to open it. I knelt down and unzipped it, then pulled out the final box. I brushed off my knees with one hand as I stood up, and held out the box with the other. 

“Hungry?” I quirked my brow at him, still trying to act like none of it was a big deal. “Your registry said sausage and mushrooms.” 

He looked at me a moment longer, then I could see the wheels start to turn. “Registry.” His voice was raspy and thick. He covered his eyes, with the towel dangling from one hand. Then he nodded, sighed, and relaxed. He did a quick brush off with the towel, then reached out for the box and flipped the lid. He closed his eyes, inhaled, and smiled. He sat down next to the pack as he snagged the first slice. I had to stop myself from staring as he devoured the first, and reached for the second before I could even settle down on the ground a few feet away. 

Then, he started talking and asking questions in between bites. I did my best to answer him when he gave me the chance, but mostly I just let him roll. 

This first time freshie was one for the books. Definitely not the strong, silent type, I thought. He was young, lean, and wiry, and looked like the kid most likely to get beat up in High School. And boy, could he talk. 

When he finally wound down, he pushed aside the empty box, and started rifling through the pack. He made quick work of the baby wipes and nail file. He chugged the bottles of water then repacked everything. And finally, he stood. 

“Now what?” 

“Now, you go home.” I held my hand out for the pack. 

“Home?”

“Yeah. Home. Your aunt has been debriefed, and is expecting you.”

“Oh. Huh. Okay. Well, um, thanks for the pizza and stuff.” He handed the pack to me. “I guess I’ll go home, then.”

I smiled at him. I could tell he was nervous again. “It was nice to meet you, Peter.”

I waited for him to be nearly out of sight before I grabbed the pizza box and started the clean-up process. The others would be long gone, but some of them left a mess. Then, I could finally write my report.

To be continued…

Please feel free to leave comments and critiques. Thank you for reading.

Cemetery Duty

Welcome to the first installation of my first short story: Cemetery Duty. If you want to read the prompt and post that got this story going, check out the original post here. Please feel free to leave comments and critiques. I love them. ❤ Happy reading.

“Last call!” I walked along the aisles, sweeping my flashlight from side to side. “Reminder, we close at 9 PM.” I was using an app on my cell to amplify my high, valley-girl voice, so I knew everyone could hear me just fine. Of course, that didn’t always matter. I had started at the center, and was slowly spiraling, in a square, straight-line kind of way, my way to the outer perimeter, calling out regularly, and hoping everything would go smoothly. I stopped once to tighten the  ponytail of my sort of short, wavy brown hair. I glanced down regularly to make sure my Chucks were still tied. 

My gaze passed right over most of the area, but there were certain parts I automatically focused on. There were always people trying to dig something up from a select few of the residents. Stuffed in the back pocket of my worn but sturdy jeans, I also had a list of the ones that had an incident today. I had memorized it when I arrived on shift. Fresh ones always drew people, which made my job a whole lot more difficult. I sighed. I was nearly to the outside edge. Everything had been quiet so far. Only a few stragglers that scampered away as soon as I got close. 

I was stepping over a marker when I heard some angry whispers. I froze, and listened. I had little time to gather information.

“Dig. Faster.” 

That was definitely a female. She sounded petulant. I rolled my dark brown eyes. I could only assume she was supervising while someone else worked for what she was after. The only response was a grunt, so I was unable to determine sex or much else. But it did give me an idea of direction. I could hear a shovel scraping against some rocks. I moved slowly, carefully lifting and placing my feet, checking my mental list of who was fresh that day that was in that direction. There were a couple of bigger names in this section that had made some visits recently, but they weren’t currently in residence. I would only have one real chance to nab one, and only if I chose correctly. I had to gamble that they were there for the fresh one.

Elektra. 

She had had a nasty altercation the night before, and didn’t make it. And she always seemed to have what she apparently considered to be fun, new accessories. Things that made people come here and make my life more difficult. 

Grave robbing. Of superheroes. I rolled my eyes again as I crept towards her grave. My job was to interrupt, intervene, and hopefully catch at least one. Standing behind a tree, I blew out a silent breath before I stepped around and attacked. 

It was a relatively short scuffle. I threw the dude off balance with a kick to the chest. I was able to grab the shovel in the moment of surprise, and nailed the digger on the side of the head before the chick standing over him could even let out a scream. Her eyes got wide as she eyed me, standing ready, and holding a shovel like I would a bat. Her eyes flickered towards her partner, and I mentally gave thanks that it has just been the two of them. I used the shovel to gesture that she should sit. She complied, but she was regaining her senses faster than I had assumed she would. 

While she was compliant, I sent a quick text.

“Backup.” That was it. They would find me. 

I glanced at my watch, and hoped they would be quick. We only had 22 minutes before these two learned a secret they had no right to know.

I knelt down and felt for a pulse in the young man I had whacked. Sometimes my strength surprised me, especially when I was doing something spontaneous, like stopping a grave robbery. Satisfied that he was just out cold, I stood where I could see both of them, resting the shovel on the ground. They were both within easy reach with the shovel. My only real concern was waiting for backup.

I took quick stock of the pair. He was thick, probably in more ways than one, I thought. There was probably some decent muscle in there, but he looked soft, too. His work boots looked well worn, as did the jeans. He had stripped down to a grimy undershirt while working. His dark hair curled with sweat. She looked all primped and polished. And just a little mean, I decided. Her eyes were too squinty to be sure of their color. Her boots looked practically new, and served fashion rather than function. Her blonde hair fell in perfect waves around her shoulders. 

After a few minutes of silence, the girl decided to try talking to me. She tried to make her eyes look sad, but I just looked at her, raised an eyebrow, and looked away to keep scanning the area. 

I glanced at my watch as little as possible. I didn’t want to give the impression that I was concerned. But still, I knew that it took them 13 minutes to reach us. 

The girl started to argue as soon as she saw the others approaching, her attitude ticking up several notches. The two men who came to help, Paul who was typically tall and lean, and Andy who was shorter and stockier, didn’t waste any time. When her demands didn’t work, she took a shaky breath and gave a pathetic attempt at looking scared, trying to appeal to their sympathetic side, but that got no response either. Then she took one last shot with me, hoping to connect, woman to woman. I just looked at her, then turned away. 

I walked up to the shorter one as he was about to hop in the hole to haul out the digger, who was just sitting in the hole, holding his head in his hands . “My report will be in by morning, Andy. I need to see to the freshies.” 

He nodded. “We’ll get her out of here quickly, Jo.” He kept his voice low. “I swear Elektra has more fans when she’s dead than when she’s alive.”

I tapped his shoulder in agreement as I walked past him and back to my rounds. 

Stay tuned for the next installment.

The Long and Short

Or maybe just the short. I guess we’ll see.

My plan for 2021 is to knock out some short stories. I need to get into a groove of writing, editing, and polishing. My sad little novels overwhelm me, so I’ve set them aside.

You know how newspapers used to publish stories in small chunks? That’s what I’m thinking to do with my short stories. I’ll publish them in parts over the course of a month or so. I have a couple of shorts started that could turn into something a little longer than four pieces, but we’ll see when we get there.

My first few short stories will probably feel a little familiar to those of you reading along with me. I’m going to take some of the prompts and starts from previous posts and flesh them out into something more complete. They won’t be identical to previous posts, but they will be close, at least for the beginning. I really kind of liked some of what I did in those posts, so I might as well see where they lead me, right?

And, if I’m being honest, I’m hoping one of those will be something I can turn into something even bigger. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

I’m also hoping to find an idea for a new novel and prep it for NaNoWriMo. I skipped this year, and I don’t know for sure if I will participate, but I’m going to plan for it. I think that counts as the ‘long’ part. But again, we’ll see.

I’m participating in a new thing for January, called StoryStorm. It’s all about gathering ideas, so hopefully something will really pop out and turn itself into something more.

This should be an interesting ride. I just hope I can follow through a bit more, and make writing a more consistent part of my life. I love it, but I need to stop pushing it aside. And I probably need to stop letting it scare and intimidate me. Especially the telling people about it part.

So feel free to pass my blog along if you enjoy it. I wouldn’t be terribly sad if I gained more followers.

Feel free to leave comments and critiques, if you like, on any of my posts. I’m always happy to receive feedback.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Hotel Scramble

This post is based on a first line generator. I was struggling to find a prompt that struck me, but finally I found one. This is the third of my posts that has made me wonder if a full story could be written with it. I enjoyed writing it. I still need to work on using more descriptions at times, but oh well. Maybe next prompt. haha

I used a 30 minute timer for this one. Here we go.

The prompt: “She opened her handbag and tipped the contents on the floor”

The result:

She opened her handbag and tipped the contents on the floor. “Where is it?” Her voice croaked out. One hand wiped uselessly at the tears falling from her dark brown eyes. Her other shook as it pawed through the contents. She put both hands down next to the pile and her head dropped. Her body shook. Her tears made dark spots on the ugly puke colored carpet that all cheap hotels seem to love. 

After a minute, she sat back on her heels, then immediately fell over. Without realizing it, one of her black stilettos had come off at some point in her search. Half laughing, half sobbing, she yanked the other off and threw it at the bed. She missed. Something broke, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. She swiped at the last of her tears drying on her face, and noted the black that came away on her fingertips. She would have to fix her face. But not yet.

 She scooted back next to the bathroom door. She yanked at her short black skirt, and fingered the snag in her black hose. She leaned back against the bathroom door with a sigh. And fell backwards as the door swung open. Her hands caught awkwardly at the door frame, then she let herself finish the fall backwards. She laid on the floor, half in the bathroom, half out. And screamed. Not a high pitched scream. A loud, growling scream. Her limbs folded in as the sound came out, and relaxed again as the scream ended. 

She started to roll onto her side, ready to give up, when someone had the nerve to knock on the door. She scrambled up and pressed her back against the wall. She slid her way to the door. The knock came again.

“Are you alright, Ma’am?” The voice was male.

She was just about to press her eye to the peep hole when he knocked again. She couldn’t stop the gasp that came out. She pressed her hand to her chest, surprised at how startled she felt. 

“ I heard a scream. I’m in the room next to you. Are you okay?”

She quickly glanced through the peep hole. He looked a little disheveled, his light brown hair slightly mussed, and was wearing the hotel robe and some flip flops. No one grabbed the hotel robe unless they were desperate and in a hurry. She let out a quick breath, eyes darting around as she thought. 

“Sorry. I hit my toe on the door frame. I didn’t mean to scream.” She leaned back against the door, hoping that would be enough to send him on his way. She would have to be more careful.

“Ouch. Okay, well, goodnight, then.”

She peeked again, and saw him turn back to his room. She waited for his door to open and close again. Instead, all she heard was his door handle rattle, and a muffled curse. 

She waited a few moments before opening her door. She finger combed her long dark hair, and straightened her clothes. She glanced in the bathroom mirror, and wiped quickly at the dark smudges under her eyes. Other than that, her makeup wasn’t bad. She looked down at her feet and decided shoeless would work. She walked to the tv stand dresser combo and grabbed her room key. She stooped down to grab her now empty purse, and her wallet as she hurried to the door. 

She opened it slowly, and peeked out. It had been approximately two minutes since she heard her neighbor jiggle his door handle. That should have been enough time for him to get to the elevator and head down to the lobby. He probably had forgotten to grab his key when he decided to rescue the damsel next door. Normally, she would have rolled her eyes at the thought. But she smiled instead. She didn’t know why, but she wanted to get a better look at him. She walked down the hall to the vending machines.

As always, feel free to add comments! Thanks for reading.

Cemetery Duty

A few weeks ago, I did a thing. It was the kind of thing where I essentially claimed that “Yes, I am a writer!” The kind of thing that is really really hard. Just a local writing group that meets every week. It shouldn’t be hard. But it was.

There was a lot of chatting, then a prompt. We wrote for about 15 minutes, then everyone read what they wrote. I knew mine was just okay, but listening to the others’ stories made it very clear how far I have to go. But that’s okay. It was really fun, even though it was also really scary. Especially the whole ‘reading it out loud’ part. Obviously, they didn’t force me to. I did. Because that’s usually how I roll. I might as well go all in, right?

I had thought about sitting back down with this prompt and adding more, filling in some things, maybe trying to bring it to a close, but I decided to just go with what I did in that 15 minutes. It could definitely be a fun short story to finish sometime. Let me know what you think of it!

The Prompt:
You maintain a cemetery where the league of superheroes bury their fallen. Your job is mostly chasing off grave robbers, gently reminding the brooding antiheroes that the cemetery closes at 9, and giving shock blankets and tea to the heroes who crawl out of their own graves. (writing.prompt.s)

(How fun is this prompt?!?)

Here we go… Enjoy! And don’t forget to leave comments! ❤

“Last call!” I walked along the aisles, sweeping my flashlight from side to side. “Reminder, we close at 9pm.” I was using an app on my cell to amplify my voice, so I knew everyone could hear me just fine. Unfortunately, that didn’t always matter. I had started at the center, and was slowly spiraling my way to the outer perimeter, calling out regularly, and hoping everything would go smoothly. For once. 

My gaze passed right over most of the area, but there were certain points I knew to focus on. There were always people trying to dig something up from a select few of the residents, but I also had a list of the ones that had an incident today. Fresh ones always drew people, which made my job a whole lot more difficult. I sighed. I was nearly to the outside edge. All had been quiet so far. Only a few stragglers that moved along as soon as I got close. 

I was stepping over a marker when I heard some angry whispers. I froze, and listened. I had little time to gather information.

“Dig. Faster.” 

That was definitely a female. She sounded petulant. I could only assume she was supervising while someone else worked for what she was after. The only response was a grunt, so I was unable to determine sex or much else. But it did give me an idea of direction. I could hear a shovel scraping against some rocks. I moved slowly, checking my mental list of who was fresh that day that was in that direction. There were a couple of bigger names that had made some visits recently, but they weren’t currently in residence. I had to gamble that they were there for the fresh one. I would only have one real chance to nab one, and only if I chose correctly. I went with the fresh one. 

Elektra. 

She had had a nasty altercation the night before, and didn’t make it. And she always seemed to have what she considered to be fun, new accessories. Things that made people come here and make my life more difficult. 

Grave robbing. Of superheroes. I rolled my eyes as I crept towards her grave. My job was to intervene, and hopefully catch at least one. Standing behind a tree, I blew out a silent breath before I stepped around and attacked. 

It was a relatively short scuffle. I was able to grab the shovel in the moment of surprise, and nailed the digger on the side of the head before the chick standing over him could even let out a scream. Her eyes got wide as she eyed me, standing ready, and holding a shovel. Her eyes flickered towards her partner, and I mentally gave thanks that it has just been the two of them. I used the shovel to gesture that she should sit. She complied, but I got the feeling she was regaining her senses, faster than I had assumed she would. 

While she was compliant, I sent a quick text.

“Backup.” That was it. They would find me. 

I glanced at my watch, and hoped they would be quick. We only had 22 minutes before these two learned a secret they had no right to know.

I knelt down and felt for a pulse in the young man I had whacked. Sometimes my strength surprised me, especially when I was doing something urgent. Like stopping a grave robbery. 

After a few minutes of silence, the girl decided to try talking to me. She tried to make her eyes look sad, but I just looked at her, and looked away, shutting down her attempt. 

I glanced at my watch as little as possible. I didn’t want to give the impression that I was concerned. But still, I knew that it took them 13 minutes to reach us. 

The girl started to argue as soon as she saw the others. Then she tried to appeal to their sympathetic side, but that got no response either. Then she took one last shot with me, hoping to connect, woman to woman. I just looked at her, then turned away. 

I walked up to one of the men that came to assist. “My report will be in by morning. I need to see to the freshies first.” He just nodded and 

The Call, part 2

I should probably be editing or doing something extra fun like laundry. But here I am, adding to the story I posted last week. I only have a small chunk of time, so I hope you find the effort worth it. =)

I’m starting to wonder if the mystery genre might be where I should turn when I FINALLY finish the two WIPs I have going. I need to finish those stories. I have no doubt about that. Though, that doesn’t mean they will be worthy of publishing. But, for me, I need to finish writing them. After that, who knows?

Read part 1 here.

Here’s part 2 of “The Call.” Enjoy.

He led her into the building, holding doors for her, making polite conversation. She did her best to answer, reminding herself it was useless to be rude, and she might as well make the best of things. That was one of the skills she tried to teach her kids. Work with what you have, and make things as pleasant as possible. Don’t dwell on the negatives.

Two men silently joined in behind them as they walked to the elevators, and all attempts at polite conversation ended. They rode to the top floor, and stepped out into a wide, elegant hallway. The two men stepped to the side, letting Sam and the man lead. He turned immediately to the left, his steps unhurried but confident.

The final moments before they reached their destination stretched out, as they always did. She started to wonder, yet again, how they managed to bypass all the security that had to be in place in a building like this one. New, streamlined, modern in every sense of the word. Yet here they were, walking down the hallway on the top floor, where the offices were huge and plush. 

She didn’t get it, but she dismissed it. She had no doubt she was much better off not knowing. One day, this would all come crashing down. And she would, no doubt, fall along with those that put this system in place. When that happened, she would do her damndest to make it clear that her role was minimal, and forced. 

But for now, she went along, knowing she had no choice.

She thought they were heading for the door at the end of the hallway, which she assumed was the CEO’s office, and therefore the largest, and would have the most to give to their “cause.”

Instead, they stopped at a door on the right side of the hall, only about half way down. She kept her mouth shut, as always. She hadn’t even asked many questions the first time. She was smarter than that. If they had wanted to let her in on the plan, they wouldn’t have made it so very, very clear that participation was not optional. 

She waited patiently as he opened the door, and she followed him into the office. It was smaller than she had imagined. The man walked directly to the painting hanging in the sitting area. 

He pushed on the bottom left corner of the frame, and the picture popped away from the wall slightly. As soon as he exposed the hidden safe, she knew what she needed. But still, she walked to the safe. She needed to be sure. A mistake would cost her more than she was willing to lose. She took a deep breath. She placed her hand over the keypad, closed her eyes, and released her breath. 

“4-2-0-9-5-5-8-1”

“Again.”

“4-2-0-9-5-5-8-1”

“Again.”

“4-2-0-9-5-5-8-1”

She turned her back on the safe, and walked back to the door. The two men were waiting for her outside, and she followed them back to the elevator, back down to the first floor, and back out to the waiting car that would take her back to her apartment. She had no idea what had been in the safe. She didn’t want to know. Her job was over.

For now.

Thanks for reading! As always, I love feedback. Just be kind.

The Call

So… I started writing this short story thing about 2 weeks ago, got interrupted (I don’t even remember what pulled me away), meant to come back and keep going, but didn’t. So I guess this is it, at least for now.

I’m feeling the pull of my WIP, and a deadline I’ve given myself for getting to the next stage. I really liked this prompt, so hopefully I’ll come back to it, though who knows how closely it would resemble where it was going when I started it.

As you read it, let me know in the comments what one word the story brings to mind for you. And… would it be a story you would like to see continue?

As always, if you have any feedback for me, I would love to hear it. You, my readers, are few, but cherished.

Her hands shook as she swiped away the “unknown caller” on her screen. She pushed the phone into her back pocket, then let out a shaky breath. She shook her head, her eyes closed, and that two letter word repeating in her head. She took a full breath in, and blew it out hard.

Her eyes snapped open. She squared her shoulders. She grabbed her jacket that she had tossed on the back of a chair only moments before, then walked straight to the door. She didn’t pause. The moment of weakness was over. She walked out, then down the stairs to the front entrance of her building. An unknown car pulled up to the curb just as she exited the main door. 

The driver said nothing as she climbed in and closed out the noise of the city. They never did. She had long ago given up trying to memorize their faces, their builds, their hairstyles. As far as she could tell, she had never had the same driver twice.

She sat back, and tried to relax her mind. Her job at the daycare was her effort to balance the scales, and she loved it. But it was draining all the same. And forced use of her “gift” seemed so heavy on the scale, and she just couldn’t seem to find that balance. She tried to be thankful the calls only came every few weeks. But never knowing when the next call would come left her on edge. They had always waited until she was home from work. She found it odd, but she was thankful for it, all the same. At the daycare, she could pretend the other side of her life didn’t exist, and she could give everything good in her to those beautiful little ones. She cherished every moment with them. She pictured them in her mind as they drove, trying to hold that piece of happiness close.

She still hadn’t figured out who had discovered her gift, or who had worked out this seemingly perfect way of exploiting it. She had fought against it at first, of course, but their threats against her and her family had cut too deeply for her to do anything other than accept what appeared to now be her fate.

She lost track of time as they drove, but she knew it hadn’t been long. A man was waiting to open her door. He offered his hand to help her exit with grace. She glanced at him briefly, with a slight smile. 

“Thank you.”

“My pleasure, Sam.” 

Something in his voice tickled her memory, but with so few words, there was no placing it.

He led her into the building, holding doors for her, making polite conversation. She did her best to answer, reminding herself it was useless to be rude, and she might as well make the best of things. That was one of the skills she tried to teach her kids. Work with what you have, and make things as pleasant as possible. Don’t dwell on the negatives.

The “End” For now.

I hope you enjoyed this little segment. What word came to mind for you?

Gone Dark

Yup. I went dark for a while. Not sure how many people noticed, but that’s not the point.

The actual point?

I’m back, Y’all.

At least for now.

Life has been busy… we took in an 18yo senior, so we had a lot of things with that (parties, events, etc.) my own kids are busy with their own things, work, projects, running the house, etc. So just life. And I know there was time in there that I could have used for writing. But sometimes you just need to NOT.

Also, I’m lazy, and need to not let myself off the hook so often.

And then there’s the part where I’m a giant chicken about this whole writing thing. It’s scary, and it can be very overwhelming.

Here’s my question for you… then I’ll move along.

Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal, in the month of November, is to write 50,000 words, which is approximately the length of a short novel.

I’ve participated three times, and “won” twice. Those two times, I worked on the same novel, with a year in between. It’s the same one I’m working on now. The first draft is done, and now I’m editing and revising. I even asked someone I know to read it when I’m ready. I thought I would be further along the editing/revising by now.

My biggest take-away from NaNo? That that style of writing doesn’t suit me very well. The rush to get the story out is great. But I don’t like the discomfort of looking at such large MESS that needs to be FIXED when it’s all over. It’s crazy, overwhelming for me, and leads to avoidance. I’d rather fix the obvious stuff as I go.

But that’s just me. I’ll probably still participate somehow. But I’m not sure in what capacity.

Anyway, I haven’t been totally neglecting everything the last few months. I’ve been doing a lot of reading of writing books, and trying to learn some techniques to help me muddle through.

And I’ve managed to get most of the way through my first read-through where I am fixing obvious things, and making notes (such as: Total junk. rewrite; and Awkward. rewrite; and More Detail!) about what I need to work on. Then I’ll go through the second time, and try to make those changes. THEN I’ll send it to that person I know and make sure it’s not the most boring thing she has ever read that makes no sense what-so-ever.

Then, more editing.

Yay.

Next time, I’ll hopefully go for a writing prompt again. We shall see.

A Deal with the Devil (Part 2)

Image result for man sitting at desk stressed anonymous

Want to review what happened last time? Click here.

The writing prompt that started this story.

(Part 2)

I woke in my bed. I sat up, gasping and terrified. That would have been the worst dream I had ever had, except that I knew, without a doubt, that was no dream. I touched a hand to my side, then to my face. I flexed every joint I had.

I felt wonderful. All of my injuries were gone. Like magic, I felt better than I could remember ever feeling. I laughed, and pushed myself up out of bed. I did a full body, up-on-my-toes stretch. I moved in front of my mirror, and smiled at my whole, unbruised face. I leaned in, and reached up to pinch my nose, just because I could. Then I stopped, and looked at my hand. When I had used it, the middle finger of my left hand hurt. Just a little poke of pain. I peered at it, and there was a small black dot.

I touched my thumb to it, pressing to test it. And sure enough. It hurt to do that.

It was a little strange that all of my other injuries had been healed, but not that. I shook it off, too happy to be whole and healthy again to worry about a missed pin-prick on my finger. The guy had more than held up his end of the bargain, I thought.

Wait.

Bargain.

I took a minute to think about the last things I remembered from that night. I moved to my desk to sit. I leaned my hands on my desk, and let my head drop. I slowly sat down, and rested my head in my hands, eyes closed, and tried to remember. I rubbed my hands down my face as I sat back and opened my eyes.

There was a letter on my desk. I shook off the idea of it not being there when I sat down. I must have missed it. I hadn’t really been paying attention. And yet my hand shook as I reached for the envelope. I took a deep breath as I opened it and let it out as I removed the papers inside.

“Dear Ethan,” it began.

Crap.

I hope you are feeling better this morning. It was my pleasure to be able to assist you. I am going to assume you agree that I held up my end of the bargain quite nicely. Your injuries have been healed, and your health and energy restored.

You had, at the time, declined my offer to read you the terms, and signed the contracts with my pen. I have included your copy of the contract with this letter. Be sure to read it. It is quite binding.

Now, I will explain your end of the bargain. You will receive a letter, similar to this one, when I have a task I expect you to complete. The frequency of the letters will change as years pass, depending primarily on what I need and when I need it. I  will expect my tasks to be completed within the time given, and discreetly. Your life, of course, depends on it.

Regards,

Lucifer

I swallowed hard. I shoved the letter behind the other sheet. My eye skipped the legal jumble and went straight to the signature. It was an odd color. Then I scanned what was near it. There were two words under the line I had signed on.

“Blood Signature”

Blood? I felt the blood drain from my face as I looked again at my signature.

I licked my lips. My eyes shifted around the room as I tried to think.

It couldn’t be blood. That was crazy. There was no way you could sign in blood and have it look like you used a pen. Was there? I absently rubbed my thumb over the pin prick on my finger. It had started to throb.

I set the papers down on my desk. This couldn’t be real. Couldn’t be happening. I had done some sketchy stuff, but nothing worth this. I rubbed my temple and tried to think. I looked at the contract again. I lifted it back off my desk, and brought it to my nose. Did my signature really have a metallic scent? Was I imagining it?

I got up to pace. My heart was pounding. My breath was coming short.

I strode back to my desk and snatched up the two papers. I folded them, and put them back in the envelope. I stuck them in the back folder in my file cabinet. When I slammed the drawer shut, I just stood there, breathing hard. I pulled in a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm myself. I kept staring at the drawer. When I began to feel more calm again, I let my hand drop from the drawer handle to my side.

I stood up straight. I turned around, and walked out my door.

Maybe a letter would come. Maybe it wouldn’t. For now, I had some thinking to do. I had been given a new life, and I absolutely would not let it end up where it did the first time.

(to be continued… maybe.)

This story has really gotten away from me. Again. I don’t know where it’s going. Should I finish it? I’m not even sure about that. Yikes. What do you think? Let me know!

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Thanks for reading!