Category Archives: fiction

Interruptions

Okay, so I went a little crazy with this one. How about the first chapter to the sequel to my debut murder mystery? This is 2150 words, more than double the going rate for flash fiction. If you dig what I wrote, be sure to check out Score of Silence. It should be published by Amber Cove Publishing in February or March of this year! I’ve worked in prompts from Terribleminds, Said Bree’s 2018 flash fiction challenge, and Julie from Write on Wednesday.

Caroline led the way up the steps to her room at Vivian’s, Tupper in tow. He grumbled as he wrestled a banker’s box full of files through the door behind her, tripping over the clothing strewn on the floor.

“Where…?”

“Dining room table,” she said, kicking aside dirty laundry to make a path before heading to the kitchen. The fridge was in as much disarray as the rest of the apartment, but she found two beers at the back. Kimberly’s favorite, she thought, shoving one back while rummaging for something her stodgy partner would prefer. She pulled the cork on the wine bottle and passed it under her nose. Better. Now, if she could just find a clean glass.

Tupper was already settled in a chair when she returned, the box lid tossed aside and stacks of files lining the antique table so out of place in the otherwise sparsely decorated room. He traded a stack of papers for the glass of wine and she pulled them across the table, cracking open her can of beer as she slid onto a chair.

They sorted in silence, exchanging files as they went, all the while scribbling notes that passed between them without comment. Caroline glanced at the dusty CD player on the sideboard, but thought better of it. For all she would have liked a bit of background music, the sound would have destroyed the groove they had long before established. Besides, Tupper hated The Dancing Pigs.

For almost an hour the only sound was that of shuffling papers and the scratching of pencils. When a tap came at the door, Caroline lifted her head, unsure if what she’d heard was simply the groans of the old building. Again, a knock, more insistent that the first. She left Tupper hunched over documents and went to investigate.

She stopped with her hand on the doorknob. After the events of the previous month, she was still skittish. She didn’t want to admit it, but how else was she supposed to react to having been drugged, abducted, and forced to clear her name against a pair of overzealous FBI agents—not to mention and the federal prosecutor that had wanted to pin everything on her. Doula Breech’s smile and casual wave still grated on her nerves. Still, the real killer had been caught, the mole in the FBI exposed, and the charges dropped. She even thought that one of the FBI agents, Steve Braxton, might prove to be a new contact in the FBI as Tupper’s former team took promotions and transfers. She did not have to be afraid. Why, then, was she?
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Wrong Place Wrong Time (FFC2018)

I was inspired recently. Cindy and I are gearing up to write the third book in the Sixteen Sunsets Saga. Here’s a little short to whet your appetite. I’ve included prompts by Chuck Wendig & Bree Salyer.

They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Joaquin and Quake picked their way through the debris left in the demolition of Globe Tower. They both wore backpacks stuffed with bottled water, air filtration masks, and first aid supplies. Joaquin wanted them both to be armed in the brave new world that they fought against, but their leader, Anne Henderson, insisted that although Major Globe was dead, his legacy of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred lived on. As a couple of college-age kids picking through the debris, they were at most, trespassing. Armed, they were insurgents. Terrorists. Criminals.

The two didn’t speak. It wasn’t that the masks they wore made it difficult; it was the devastation all around them. Their mood was somber. Neither of them knew what sights their little excursion would bring. Their destination was the unknown. They’d left the safety of their hideout in the dark hours. It was the only time that people with superpowers could travel. Their movements went unnoticed, the Seattle Police tried to enforce curfew, but they were spread thin due to daily rioting.

The riots were getting worse. Those with super powers tried to defend their right to exist. The Superhub was in shambles. Andy still hadn’t recovered from his experience at the base of Globe Tower. His ramblings of a phantom self only served to fuel the image of an unstable young man. No one at the hideout had stopped them. Anne seemed to ignore anything not directly involved with tracking down Kristof. It didn’t mean that she was unaware of their nightly romp through the disaster area. She likely had eyes everywhere. Joaquin was certain that having an immortal super in their midst was an asset, but there were those that remembered Anne’s previous affiliation, albeit a forced one, with Major Globe.

It felt good for Joaquin to do something. The losses were staggering. Frank Massey’s daughter did her best to keep their outfit running. Her eyes were always puffy. With their numbers dwindled, it was not hard to hear her crying in the wee hours. Inside the warehouse, sound carried with no concern to snores, the sounds of sex, of a grieving daughter over her hero father.

Hero.

Detective Frank Massey was a hero. Even before the disaster, the city had been in chaos. Their covert underground railway orchestrated by Massey’s partner, Betty Patterson, smuggled many supers out of Seattle. The police presence before Globe Tower fell was one thing – now, Seattle was a police state. The streets were crawling with armed soldiers, the Army National Guard called in to assist getting the populace under control. Something Joaquin knew that Frank Massey would’ve rallied against. For a hero cop, the old man wasn’t half bad.

The duo had been out every night searching for their family. Neither of them had a biological family. Quake was cast out by his parents fearing that his emerging superpowers would bring unwanted scrutiny to their family. This was before the “supers crisis,” initiated by a confused super-powered Miles Jensen, dubbed The Madison Park Butcher, and the machinations of an egomaniacal kingpin by the name of Jacob Globe. Now… Quake’s story played out again and again as worried people lashed out against those that were different. Co-workers “outed” supers living as if they had no powers.

Parents against children.

Husbands against wives.

Neighbors against neighbors.
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13 Week Streak: 05

I miss writing weekly flash fiction. I’m glad that Thain in Vain and Dusty Devil brought back a weekly event like the #13WeekStreak. I enjoy stretching my interpretation of the prompts. I enjoy keeping my story limited to 500 words:

* * *

The operator of the Mansion of Horror wasn’t always the carnie with the sad smile he was famous for. Before Playland, before death, before ruin, and most definitely before the incident, he was a wealthy man. He had power. He had money. He had a beautiful wife who adored him. He was the envy of his peers. He was the American dream.

Not the real American dream, mind you. You know, the one where anything’s possible. When America was a place that you could go to escape tyranny and persecution. No, he subscribed to the dream of a house in the suburbs. A white picket fence and a pair of sporty cars in the 2.5-car garage. Dinner was always on the table when he came home from drinking with the boys.

It was the summer of ’66, after all. The terrors of the 50s were behind America. The national flag featured fifty stars for quite a few years back then. Jorge was a man about town, and they all loved him for it. Women wanted to be with him. Men wanted to be him. He was always faithful to Lucille, and she doted on him. The summer of ‘66 was looking up for Jorge. His life wouldn’t run afoul the fates for another eighteen months.

The summer of ’66 was three years before he found communion with the dregs of society. They had ruled Lucille’s death self-inflicted, but Jorge knew that that was not the case. He knew the combination of his brief infidelity and the policies of the Catholic Church were the culmination of his greatest loss.

It wasn’t a loss that would balance another exurbanite purchase. The taxman wouldn’t weigh this loss against gains made on the market, and decide that as a contributing member of society that, “boys will be boys.”

Jorge stood tall, as a man should, when the police arrived at his office. His stoic demeanor betrayed no hint of underlying turmoil. He thanked the officers, offered a firm handshake, and returned to his desk. He motioned for the door to remain open as they departed. He would grieve for Lucille in private, as all good Americans should.

His decline wasn’t rapid by any stretch of the imagination. It did take him a year to be exonerated in his wife’s death. Another six months for his friends and colleges to shun him. Even the target of his unfortunate ardor ignored his cries for help.

It was eighteen months later, when Jorge, easily confused for a vagabond, retrieved a crumpled up newspaper in the gutter. Like the paper, he could never be new again, but a help wanted ad in the summer of ’69 promised a new life. His old life of privilege and moneyed wants would be forgotten. Cast aside.

Today, we commit Jorge to the ground after forty-five glorious years with Playland. We’ve returned here to pay our respects and bury him next to his wife. Rest in peace Jorge, you’ll be missed.


13 Week Streak: 04

[500 words]I skipped last week because I had a deadline to take care of for War of the Worlds: Firestorm. I’m back this week with a little taste of the Sixteen Sunsets Saga before the first book. Enjoy!

* * *

“Hurry up, man, someone’s gonna bust us!”

Joaquin ignored Tyrone, and focused on working the slim jim. “Chill,” he replied.

“You said you did this before,” Tyrone wheezed. His wheeze subsumed to a wet cough.

Joaquin paused and met Tyrone’s eyes. “You need a hit?”

“Bitch, you ain’t my momma.”

Joaquin focused on Tyrone’s bulging eyes and pale lips. “Look like youse dyin’, man.”

Tyrone gave him the finger, and reached into his jacket, and pulled out his inhaler. He breathed out twice in rapid succession and depressed the cylinder.

Joaquin returned to jimmying the lock on the Plymouth Duster. He couldn’t quite work the thin metal correctly. The only other tool they had was a flat-head screwdriver for the ignition. Be easier if we just smash the window, he thought, ain’t nobody gonna send a couple fourteen-year-olds to jail. Especially since… It was easy for him to justify stealing Tyrone’s mother’s white boyfriend’s car. Poor white families had been moving into his neighborhood for years. They thought they could get cheap property and fix it up. The racial divide in Seattle wasn’t as bad as LA, but you still had to watch yourself.

Joaquin felt his arm jostled. “Check out this bitch,” he whispered.

Joaquin turned from the Duster and saw a white kid, about he same age as them walking down the sidewalk brandishing a wooden sword. Every few steps, he would swing or stab at imaginary foes.

Joaquin grinned, elbowing Tyrone. “Probably fightin’ ninjas an’ shit.”

The white kid slowed his roll and watched them. He sidled up to them. “Yo, Dawg, you need help?”

Joaquin closed his eyes. “Whaddaya know ‘bout jackin a car, uh dude?”

The white kid smiled. “Andy, Andy Kitz.” He ran his fingers along the slim jim and it swayed back and forth. “You can learn all kinds of stuff on Youtube.”

Tyrone smirked, but Joaquin stepped away and motioned for Andy to prove it.

Andy dug his fingers into the seam where the door met the frame. He pried the door away, and shoved his wooden sword into the gap. He pushed on the sword until the gap was big enough to get his small hand and arm in. Andy grunted as his fingers brushed against the door lock. Finally, he gripped the cylinder between his knuckles and the door popped. “Where you guys headin’?” he asked.

Tyrone gave Andy a shove. “Nunya business, homey,” he replied at the same time Joaquin announced, “The beach.”

Andy frowned.

Joaquin sighed. “Fine, we headin’ to Whidbey Island.”

Andy nodded, shrugged his shoulders, and turned to walk down the street.

Joaquin grabbed him by his skinny arm. “You know what happens to snitches, right?”

Andy shook his arm free. “You don’t have to worry ‘bout me,” he declared, “They’re always watching.”

The Duster purred to life. “Move over, bitch,” Joaquin barked at Tyrone, “We got places to be.”

They drove past Andy and his wooden sword and made their way to Whidbey Island.


13 Week Streak: 02

[500 Words]Thain in Vain teamed up with Drafty Devil to bring us the 13-Week Streak flash fiction challenge. Here’s the next challenge:

* * *

Timelines are just what you’d think they are: Destinies realized when our path diverges. The illusion of that choice has confounded philosophers through the centuries. How can I choose one path over another? What happens to the timeline in the discarded choice? Timelines collapse when I take the right fork over the left. There are those that believe that the unchosen path continues in an alternate universe. But, if these choices are realized in alternate versions of ourselves and timelines, then is choice even relevant? Still, some believe that destiny is self-correcting. If I choose left over right, and right was my destined fork, will fate conspire to bring me back to the right path?

It would be easy to make a decision if there were a map that indicated all the important decisions to be made in life. But even if there were such a map, would this decision even be on it? I think that in the grand scheme of destiny that this decision is inconsequential. Perhaps it is but whimsy of a fickle deity in an uncaring universe. After all, if this forked path is unimportant enough to be marked on a map, what value does it truly have on my reality?

But what is destiny? Is it the culmination of endless minor decisions? A lifetime of unmarked and unimportant forked paths is no life that I care to live. What would that mean to my life thus far? But then again, what about the multitudinal universe? What of all those unrealized decisions littered along the path I’ve trodden? If each path has been conquered, then all decisions are worthless.

Maybe I was a hero along a different forked path. But, if that’s true, then so should the opposite be true: I could’ve been a villain. But how do these unrealized realities affect this reality? If I could break through from one reality to another, what would I learn about myself? Would these new versions of myself even be me?

It’s easy to say that I’d still be me in the scope of a short path. Here, an hour from camp can only have a finite number of divergent paths. I think that those iterations of myself are me. But what about a forked path two hours ago? Two weeks ago? The exponential diversification of reality can’t be properly understood by a mere mortal. Would something I did a lifetime ago result in a different person?

“This is not one of those times,” an exasperated voice intones. I turn to see my companions waiting patiently for my decision.

I see her face beaming and shyly peeking over the wickered basket clutched to her breast. A basket patiently awaiting the fruits of our journey. Waiting for my decision. For her, I make these decisions without regret.

“I think the orchard is this way,” I declare with false confidence. We follow the right path, but a part of me begs to question what reality lurks down the unchosen path.


13 Week Streak: 01

[500 Words]Thain in Vain teamed up with Drafty Devil to bring us the 13-Week Streak flash fiction challenge. Here’s the first challenge:

* * *

“I feel like we’re not supposed to be doing this.”

Matt turned to Victoria with a mischievous grin. “We aren’t!”

“Aren’t?” Victoria inquired.

“Doing this,” Matt declared.

Victoria forced a smile. Her eyes darted to the proximity indicator. Matt and Eric “borrowed” the shuttle from Steven’s father’s yard. Steven called it a yard, but the six low-orbit shuttles that constituted “the fleet” were ramshackle at best. More patchwork than shuttle, and no one would miss this one. It would be sold for scrap after the long weekend. Eric was a wizard with all things transport, so the three youths fixed up the shuttle for their weekend getaway.

Matt took her silent musings for acceptance. “Besides,” he continued, “the ‘Captain’ thinks we’re still in dock around Europa.”

The proximity warning bellowed it presence into the tiny cockpit. The comms burst into life with Eric’s excited voice. “We’ve got a whale!”

Matt smiled, leaned over the control panel, and entered a sequence. The gray featureless walls quickly subsumed to transparent. Victoria looked over her shoulder and met Charlotte’s eyes. She snuggled closer to Steven, her eyes wide in anticipation. Eric and Stephanie’s chattering from the rear compartment droned on over the comms. The ‘captain’ sat dark and impotent, light reflecting off its smooth surface.

Victoria gripped the armrests of the navigation chair. They were less than an hour into their adventure and they were about to see their first whale. The weeks of planning for a trip that would last only a few hours had finally reached fruition.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Matt whispered next to her. “Too close!” His face paled as energy discharge danced along the hull.

“Protect the ‘captain’,” Steven’s excited voice sounded out over the comms.

Matt’s fingers danced over the beveled glass. Victoria felt the acceleration as he rotated their shuttle so that the pod, dubbed “the captain,” was rotated away from the breach.

“We’ve got another one!”

Eric’s voice was no longer lilted with excitement. Now it was a resigned dread.

The hues of blues and purples crackled at Victoria’s feet. When the whale burst from the portal, the leading edge materialized and sheered the captain from its moorings.

The quick trip to watch celestial phenomenon was looking more like a death sentence. Alarms and warnings shrieked and flashed with intensity that the situation required.

“We’re caught in their wake!”

Victoria thought that Eric’s voice was starting to grate on her nerves.

The shuttle tumbled end over end and as they cleared Jupiter’s atmosphere, Europa came into view. Jupiter, then Europa. It repeated again and again.

“Boaty McBoatface.” A new voice intoned over the comms. “Do you require assistance?”

Victoria slammed her hand on the panel in front of her. “Yes! We’ve lost our drive pod!”

“Understood, Boaty McBoatface.” The panels in the cockpit turned blue as their rescuer took control of their shuttle. Bursts of compressed gas righted their spin and they prepared for the trip back to Europa to face the consequences of their soirée.


Scandalous Contradiction

This is a continuation of Permanence, but if you missed it, you can still read this. Both parts are still not an official part of Days Until Home. But, and you have to imagine me leaning in close and whispering conspiratorially, there could be an announcement this summer about that… Anyway, these 1,487 words are from the following prompts: Terrible Minds, Inspiration Monday, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2, #3WW, & #SoCS.

* * *

Adelaide was eager to disembark the Juniper Jumper. Even with no advance notice, information brokers found their way into tickets for the short hop from Earth to Luna Station. Some were able to purchase their passage on the atmospheric jumper by purchasing their tickets on the exchange. Those that were tardy ended up paying a premium on the secondary market. At least one information broker stood with her equipment at the boarding gate and simply offered each patron before they boarded triple and quadruple the going rate for tickets. To the young couple who intended to vacation on Luna, a delay of only twelve hours was worth is for the exorbitant profit they would make reselling. Even after paying the taxes on their windfall, they still would have enough to upgrade their accommodations and tuck a little away for the next tax season. She wondered how many ticket holders were re-accommodated to later flights. Adelaide frowned at the euphemism often employed by the corporations. It was an offense to language that they would hide their true actions behind innocent words like that. The flagrant disregard for, and the lengths to which they go to violate an individual’s rights was almost an anticlimax when she saw it in person.

Adelaide did her best to keep out of the digital eye of the brokers. Paparazzi, she remembered the archaic term for the ambush journalists. They were like bitches in heat, their tongues wagging and doing everything to catch her eye. They knew that with Adelaide and Erika traveling together, something was going on. Even a year after their return to Earth and six months after the Kerwood Nine stood trial for the destruction of the mining ship they were still newsworthy. Those that cared about such things knew that there were at lease two other Kerwood survivors living on Luna Station, plus both Jeremy and Old Vicky found their way on board regularly.

Erika complained constantly about the intrusion into their privacy. Adelaide shrugged and shared a knowing and sympathetic smile with the flight crew. At least they kept themselves professional, she thought. The same couldn’t be said for the information brokers.

Adelaide’s years of spacefaring allowed her to know the exact moment that they switched from the fractional gravity aboard the Juniper Jumper to the full-G of Luna Station. Most people knew that something was up when their stomachs lurched from aft to “down” as the jumper aligned itself with the station’s rotation.

As an engineer, Adelaide appreciated the complex mechanism that allowed the station to rotate around the space elevator that tethered the monstrosity of steel and Lexan to Luna. Adelaide would never admit it to anyone, but she felt the pull of Luna. It was as if she was coming home after a particularly long contract.

Adelaide saw one of the flight crew poke her head into the first class cabin and lock gazes with her. Her reaction was slight, and the crewmember nodded and retreated to the cockpit.

“Hey,” Erika pouted when Adelaide grabbed her by the elbow and moved down the narrow aisle.

“We don’t have time for a show,” Adelaide hissed to her companion.
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