Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw provided us with the following inspiration this week:

This week’s prompt comes from one of my old (not in age) sociology professors, Sophie Aubert (yes, she made a cameo appearance in one of my stories earlier this year).  Professor Aubert was lecturing on degrees of truth and perceptions; how our ‘sphere’ influenced those perceptions.

You think that…the only truth that matters is that which can be measured.  That isn’t always the case…some truths can’t be quantified…they just are and we have to accept that.
I want to tell you a little story, something that happened to me a few years ago.
My partner and I were going to a Halloween party at a friend’s place outside of Paris; an old asylum that she had purchased for a song and spent the last several years renovating.
Dusk had fallen, casting long shadows across the narrow forest road, as we made our way to the villa.  Suddenly, a dark shape darted out from the dusk-drawn woods and into the middle of the road, where it stopped–frozen in the glare of the headlights.  Claudette jammed the brakes and the old Citroen slid to a stop only a few feet away from the…
Okay.  That’s enough, I think.  Now, you get to finish the story.
What did Sophie and Claudette see?  What was it that had stopped in the middle of the road?  Was it human or beast?  Was it real or only a ghostly apparition?
And, to make it interesting, let’s throw in a handful of words, shall we?
Prompt:  What ran out of the woods on that dark Halloween night?  What happened after the car stopped?  Did the ‘creature’ run off?  Did Sophie and Claudette get out of the car?  Go ahead and put yourself in the story if you want.  See if you can scare me!
Word List:  Murder, bedchamber, rack, clock, wine, time

I put in a couple of really off-the-wall characters in my story.  Please enjoy.


You know, I’ve stuck my nose where it didn‘t belong more than once in my life, but for the stunt I pulled tonight, I need to be crowned dumb-ass of the year.  There’s a problem however, since I’ll probably be dead long before my coronation.  Here’s the skinny…

My name is Ralph McCorey, and I’m Senior Technician in the Research Laboratory at the University.  What that means is I do all the dirty work and get none of the glory.  Those Professors are always involved in some project that’s supposed to be for educational purposes.  If all those behind-closed-doors experiments they’re doing are for the benefit of the students, why aren’t the students allowed in there?  Too, who are those fellows in black suits and sunglasses, and why do they come and go at all hours of the night?  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because they’re working on government stuff.  Creating bio-weapons or robots.  Or so I thought.

There’s one Professor who believes he’s God’s gift to the planet.  His name’s Maximilian Schleerner.  Are you ready for that?  Who names their kid ‘Maximilian’?  I guess it turned out okay since he grew up and became a college professor.  But, what if the kid had decided to be a circus clown or the manager of a fast food restaurant when he grew up?  How would that moniker wrap itself around him then?  Anyway, moving on…

I’m there in the lab every day cleaning up after those high-and-mighties and you would think I’d get a ‘thanks, Ralph’ now and again, but no.  All I ever get is ‘wipe that spill up, you, and don’t get it on your hands because we’re not sure how it interfaces with human skin’ or ‘hey, you, go get us 8 coffees, 5 black and 3 regular, but go off campus.  That stuff here is sludge.’  They’re nasty and treat me like I’m their personal errand boy, but Maximilian?  He’s the worst.  He looks at me like I belong to a species that hasn’t been identified yet, and never speaks to me.  He just snaps his fingers and points to what he wants and charades it out.  I decided I was going to fix him--and fix him good.

Tonight, I drove to the Laboratory, which is on the backside of the campus.  I took the old forest road no one uses anymore because it’s in terrible shape.  I’m almost to the back gate, and out from the right side of the woods, crossing the road to the left, came a thing.  I slammed on my brakes and put on my brights.  The ‘thing’ looked right at me and then continued to cross and went into the woods on the left side.  What was it?

Well, it was low to the ground and had a body about the size of a two-liter pop bottle.  Not creepy enough?  Did I mention the furry wings that were open to maybe a total span of about 8 feet?  It’s eyes glowed red--yes, I said glowed, and it had fangs like those actors in the vamp movies, only much longer.  It stood maybe a foot off the ground, and walked on two claws that clicked on the road as it walked.  I knew then I had to get to the Lab and snoop around.  A nightmare like that doesn’t just evolve one day from nothing.

I turned my lights off and made my way up the hill.  There were lights on in the office area, so I took a look through one of the windows.  There sat Professor Maximilian himself, writing in a big notebook and what do you think was in there with him?  Two of those whatevers that was on the road.  One was crawling around the room and the other was climbing up the desk.  Once it got up on it, the Prof shoved what looked like a big wad of raw hamburger in its mouth and it slurped the whole thing down.  I could feel the vomit rising in my throat, and figured I’d better pick up some Ripple for the wine rack the previous tenant left behind, and head on home and try to figure out what to do.  I could fix his ass good with this.

When I opened the door to my apartment, I smelled something really rancid, like something had died in there.  Before I could hit the light, the door slammed behind me and I was pushed to the ground.  The lights came on and there stood Professor Maximilian and one of his ‘things’.  How did they beat me here?  And more importantly, how many bites will the thing need to take to finish me off?

“You have foolishly trespassed and witnessed a vision mankind is not yet ready for.”  The Prof always talked all formal like that.

“I’m sorry, Professor.  I didn’t know.  I’m not going to tell anyone.  I mean, who would I tell?  Everybody in your Department probably already knows, right?  You don‘t have to kill me.”

He was thinking.  Maybe there was hope?

“If you will agree to keep this confidential and help me obtain fresh meat for my creations, perhaps we can come to an agreement.”

As long as I’m not the entrée , sure.

“Deal, Prof, and I’ll bring an appetizer to the Lab tonight.  Just give me 30 on the clock.”

“Acceptable, Ralph.  Every night by midnight, and be on time.  Always.  Oh, and they‘ve recently developed a taste for human flesh.”

He called me by my name.  So what now, Ralph, he’s your Valentine?  Come to ground, boy.  What the hell have you got yourself into?  Rinse out test tubes by day; murder by night?  Where are you going to get a body to feed them this evening?  Wait a minute.  That girl I took out for burgers last week.  Joey’s cousin.  Mildred Louise.  The fat one with the third eye who wanted me to share what she called her ‘bedchamber‘.  The first date from hell.  I wonder if she’s home tonight.  Of course she’s home tonight.  I’ll just give her a quick call.  Maybe I’ll be around to wear that crown after all…

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The prompt this time was from my grandson, Michael, who suggested we use the above picture as inspiration.  You want to spend the night in an underground cave, but when you wake up, your guide is gone and you’re alone.  Or, are you?  The genre was to be horror, so I thought I’d include a bit of the human side of horror as well.  Please enjoy.


What in the name of all that is Holy was that sound?  The only sounds that I’m supposed to be hearing down here are my guide’s and my footsteps and maybe a bit of dripping water from some of the small underground waterfalls.  This is what I’ve paid a fortune for?  The chance to be awakened to a teeth-rattling scream and a grinding noise that reminds me of the compactor on my neighborhood’s garbage truck?  This is really quite unacceptable.  I seriously doubt that mental dwarf of a guide I’ve hired knows just who he’s pissing off here.  This trip was supposed to reduce my stress level, not provide me with yet another ulcer.

My name is Markham Billings, and I have been the top salesman for the Northwest Region for the past ten years running.  What my company creates, and what I sell, is a way to increase revenue.  Densonne Advertising Agency is top-of-the-line when it comes to newspapers, television, billboards, flyers, you name it.  Once a company signs with us, we’ll get their name out everywhere, including on a space shuttle to Mars, if there’s one set to launch.  I have more accounts than all the other bozos on staff, but that’s because I can handle more accounts than all the other bozos on staff.  Especially that airhead Phil McGowan.  Born loser.

All of the other salesmen are in awe of me, and rightfully so.  They’re always asking me for tips and tricks on how to walk into a potential client’s front door and less than an hour later, walk out with a five-year contract locked up tight.  I keep telling them over and over that it’s all in the attitude.  I don’t go in to sell them anything.  I’ve already made up my mind that the account is mine.  The only thing I go in for is the technicality of getting their signature.  Unfortunately for my fellow salesmen, that’s confidence I was born with and not something I can teach.  And still they ask.  But not Phil.

Phil McGowan strolled in one day like he owned the place and somehow managed to convince Densonne himself to take him on.  He had previously sold wall-to-wall carpeting, I think, for some outfit that had gone out of business and now he was looking for something different.  Can you believe it?  He was going to go from rugs to riches--no pun whatsoever intended.  The crumb is an insect and is constantly creeping up on everyone at the office, and looking over their shoulder to see what they‘re working on.  If someone happens to come up behind him while he’s in his cube on his computer though, he immediately exits out to the company logo, so apparently, what’s good for the goose is not necessarily hunky-dory for the rest of us.

I have no idea how he got hired, other than the fact that there’s got to be some type of blackmail involved.  You should know that Densonne isn’t exactly open and above board with his tax reporting, and his sons do not generally verify the ages of the dates they take up to their cabin for weekends.  We are all aware of the family’s flaws, but we all keep to our own and do what we can to line our own pockets.  Which brings me to the most recent development in my ever-prospering career.

There’s a new software outfit opening up right across the line of my territory.  It’s going to be huge and they’ve already got more clients than they will ever need.  Even though it’s technically on the edge of Phil’s sector, I know he can’t handle a client of that magnitude, and so does our President.  The word is I’m going to be given that account and Mr. Phil is going to be left out in the cold to take care of his Mom-and-Pop washing machine manufacturer and some TV repair franchise.  While accounts are generally assigned according to a salesman’s particular area, there are exceptions.  A multi-million dollar one doesn’t need to be taken care of by a dime-a-dozen mope.  It needs to be handled by a one-in-a-million advertising representative:  me.  And that’s what started all of this week’s commotion.

It’s not official yet, but everyone knows it will happen, so what does cry-baby Phil do?  First he runs to Densonne’s office and whines all over him how he needs this chance and just give him the opportunity and he’ll do a great job, and all that other crap.  When he was abruptly dismissed, he came crawling to me.  Oh, I have so many accounts and I make such a big commission already, and he needs to make his mark and blah, blah, blah.  I, of course, told him to go straight to Hell.  I do have a lot of accounts and before I took on this new one, I was going to take a vacation, and when I got back, he was never to speak to me again, unless he was picking up takeout for the staff as newbies are often assigned to do.  He didn’t’ take it very well and walked off with his tail between his legs, but that’s best.  Let him know right from the get-go that I’m Number One and he isn’t.

Funny though how people will twist stuff around and still try to get in your good graces. Phil had heard me talking about how I’ve always wanted to go wandering around underground caves.  I’m not sure where that came from, but it’s always been a fantasy of mine to spend the night way down below the surface on some rock floor, with an underground stream flowing by and no sound anywhere at all, except that of my own breathing.  Problem is, I’m not sure where to go or how to arrange that.  Not too many are offering that kind of one-on-one tour, but believe it or not, Phil handed one to me.  He told me about a friend of his who took people into caves off the islands all the time, and gave me his number.  He apologized for acting a fool about the new account and wished me an enjoyable vacation.  I’m going to take him up on it, but he’s still a jerk and I’ll never let him forget it either.

So, now you know how I got here, but where is here?  My so-called guide took me up and down, over and through, around and back and we ended up spending the night in this cavern that’s dimly lit by the one around the corner where the rocks seem to be glowing.  All’s well and good, right?  Wrong.  I came here to get away, true, but not permanently.  My $1,000 a day guide left his gear, and took off for parts unknown, I woke up to a scream I‘m not sure was human, and what the Hell is that grinding noise?  Something’s moving around in that lit up area.  I’m going to go over and…

“Phil?  What are you doing here, and what’s the gun for?  Oh, I get it.  You set this up so you could get me down here and kill me, is that it?  You’ll never get away with this.  You’ll never get that account either.”

I can’t believe I fell for his ‘I’m-so-sorry’ bullshit act.

“Markham, I’m not going to kill you, but you will die here, just like all the others who have placed themselves in my way.  I’m sure my friend Thomas who guided you here told you all about the legend of these caves.”

I wonder if I can drop and toss a rock at him before he pulls the trigger.

“Yes, Phil, Thomas told me all about The Mother.  Some thing that lives down here and feeds on those who violate her nest.  It’s one for the books, Phil.  Real funny.  Ha.  Ha.”

Why was Phil backing up?  Where does he think he’s going?

“Mother is quite real, Markham, and she’s close.  She, and her young, are still quite hungry too.  I’ve already whetted her appetite with Thomas, since he’s really not of any use to me anymore.  I’ll just use one of the exits I fashioned for myself years ago and you have a seat and wait for Mother.  She should be here very soon.”

He thinks he can back up around the corner and I won’t follow?  He won’t fire that gun--that would probably start some kind of slide.  Okay, he went around to the right.  I’ll quietly go toward…  What?  Where did he go?  There’s no opening in here at all.  How did he…

What’s that rustling noise?  I can feel hot breath on me and it smells like death.  The shadow on the wall is towering over me and coming down.  Something wet and slimy is covering my face.  Something sharp has sliced into my neck.  Oh God, it hurts…

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


F3’s 100th prompt has a Western theme, and we were to use the following words in our story:  Rattlesnake, six-shooter, adios, miner, madam, dusty, and sheriff.  I suppose the upcoming fright fest of a holiday crept in my head for this one.  Please enjoy as I try to answer:


Georgie woke up on a cot in what looked like a saloon right out of the Old West.  He stood up and looked around and there were swinging doors at the entrance, and several small wooden tables and chairs .  He checked the shelves behind the bar, but all were empty.

“What the hell?” he said.  “One minute I’m pulling a score and the next…”

Georgie saw the doors swing in and a tall man entered.  As he approached the bar, Georgie could see that if they ever decided to remake Rawhide, this cat was ready.  Black Stetson hat, black shirt, leather vest and pants, double gunbelt, and black boots with spurs.

“Nice six-shooters you got there, Sheriff.  What do you say we belly up to the bar and pour ourselves a shot of firewater?”

The man took a seat on one of the barstools, removed his hat and placed it on the bar.  It’s been so long, he thought.  I hope this one will be different.

“I am Daniel,” he said softly, “and I’m not the Sheriff.  I am the Caretaker.”

The ‘Caretaker’?  Georgie wondered if that brain tumor Madam Zenda told him was in his future had finally honed in on him.  It was time to get directions to the closest highway and head straight to an ER.

“Name’s Georgie, and as much as I’d love to stay and visit, I’ve got places to go.  So, if you’ll just take me to my car, I’ll be on my way.”

The man took a deep breath and began.

“I know who you are.  Let me explain.  You want to know where you are?  Well, my friend, this is Hell.  One of them.  Others come, but they don‘t last long.  We have until morning to talk--a rare reprieve from loneliness for me.  I haven’t had any company in a long time.  Could we please have a conversation?”

Georgie couldn’t figure out this clown in the Gunsmoke Halloween getup.   It’s like he actually believed the garbage he was spouting.  Georgie couldn’t remember running out of gas.  When Johnny D loaned him that clunker, he said it would get Georgie to the bank in Huntersville and then to the city on one tank.  Engine must have died, but where was the car, and how did Georgie end up in this loony bin?

“Okay.  Let’s assume, just for a minute, that you’re telling the truth and this is Hell.  Where’s all the fire and brimstone and the devil with his pitchfork?  All I see is a deserted town at the end of nowhere, complete with dusty streets, and a saloon with no booze.  Oh, and you.  A broken down gunslinger who likes to sit and chat like some old broad at a Bridge game.  Sorry, but I’m splitting this pop stand.  Adios, friend.”

Daniel didn’t see any point in telling him he wouldn‘t get far.  This man, Georgie, would find out soon enough.

Georgie couldn’t see the wall, but he could feel it.  Wide open spaces ahead as far as the eye could see, but he couldn’t walk past the school on one side, the burned out church on the other, or out into the fields that ran alongside.  It was like he was inside a large square box.  He could feel the warmth of the sun, and the air he breathed was clean and fresh.  He knew the world was still out there, but how, and why, was he being kept here?  What if the cowboy was right?

This wasn’t funny anymore.  Georgie was genuinely pissed now, and headed back to the saloon to get some straight answers from Clint Eastwood’s clone.  As he approached the doors, a rattlesnake appeared out of nowhere and struck at his left leg.  He quickly pushed open the doors and made his way to the bar where the man in black was still sitting.

“I just got bit by a snake.  Where’s the doctor?”  Georgie was in a panic.  He was sure a rattlesnake’s bite would kill him if he didn’t get help pretty quick.

“Nothing will happen to you,” the man said.  “The snakes are the only creatures I have for company.  Every now and then, they strike.  I am unsure as to why.”

“That’s it.”  Georgie had had enough.  “What is this place and why can’t I leave?”

“As I said earlier, this is my Hell.  Long ago, I robbed the bank in this town and I killed a woman and her child during my getaway.  For my evil deed, I was condemned to remain in this shadow of the town it once was.  Before you, there was a miner who had gambled away his claim and decided to rob the bank.  He killed a schoolteacher and was shot by a guard.  You were killed by a policeman on your way out right after you shot an expectant teller.  She died instantly, as did her unborn child.”

“How did you…  I mean, who told…  I…”

“We will be permitted to talk through the night.  Once the sun again rises, however, we may no longer speak, and will not be permitted any further communication until another arrives.  And, that’s only if someone tries to rob this town’s bank, takes the life of an innocent and is killed in the process.  If that doesn’t occur, or when the bank ceases to exist, we will have only silence for eternity.”

Georgie wished this jerk would shut his piehole.

“I’m ready to call our jawing session quits right now, but one last question.  Why won’t we be able to talk in the morning?”

“I am not permitted to answer that.  However, I am obliged to tell you that if you wish to join the screaming souls in the Lake of Fire, you need only to wish for it.  So, in the few hours that remain, will you please indulge my need for the sound of a human voice and tell me about yourself?”

Georgie shook his head and went to lay down on the cot.  He saw the man lay his head on the bar and close his eyes.  He better not come near me during the night, Georgie thought, or he’ll be missing more than conversation when I get through with him.

Georgie felt the sun on his face.  He just knew when he opened his eyes, he’d be in a suite at the Holiday Inn on Route 85.  Unfortunately, he was still in the middle of this nightmare.  The man had moved to the other side of the room and was on the floor, his face to the wall.  Georgie watched him breathing slowly, and was grateful he was still asleep. He was not in the mood for a pow-wow with this nutcase.  He stretched and felt a yawn coming, but something was wrong.  Why couldn’t he open his mouth?  If that bastard did something to me…

Georgie walked behind the bar and looked into the mirror.  Below his nose, the entire bottom of his face was one solid mass--his mouth had been erased.  Now, he understood.  He closed his eyes and made a wish.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Here's the next chapter in the on-going collaboration between Lewis Peters and myself entitled A Little R and R.  I've included links to the first three chapters in case you need to catch up.  Please enjoy.





They were coming, but not simply to take a quick look-see and then sail on by.  An inflatable motor boat was deployed and it was headed straight for the yacht.  Whoever was in it would board and find me with drugs galore, a dead body, and a shotgun in my hands.  Snooping around in here probably wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve ever made, but it did make me realize just how big this show is and also just how dangerous its puppeteers are.  Since whoever’s coming will be armed and won’t hesitate to use ‘he-pulled-his-gun-on-us-first’ as their official line of defense, I decided against donning a cloak of nobility and chose instead to hide.  Somebody once said that he who cowers and runs away, lives to fight another day, and that’s good enough for me.

I figured the cabin with Danny’s body would most likely be the safest for me since there would be no reason for them to check on his status.   They’re either here to retrieve some, or all, of the coke, or to make sure nobody’s messed with it.  Funny thing is, those are the only two possible reasons that crossed my mind.  It never occurred to me that, as the Coast Guard, they’re simply running a legitimate check on what appears to be an abandoned boat.  Well, somebody else said that just because you’re paranoid, that doesn’t mean nobody’s out to get you.  That one’s good enough for me too.

I made my way back to the aft cabin and almost felt I had to apologize for disturbing Danny’s final resting place.  They’d taken him down hard and he’d seen it coming--guaranteed.  I do a lot of jobs for local law enforcement and I’m Mr. Hard-as-Nails when I’m escorting a you’ll-never-take-me-alive bail jumper to the county lockup or snapping photos of a cheating wife lying naked on the backseat of her lover’s car while her paramour swings at me with a baseball bat.  But, this one, I can’t take on with my Polaroid or with Mr. .38 strapped to my ankle.  This thing, whatever it is, is way bigger than me, or anything I’ve ever run up against, and I’m going to have to bring in a friend to help me.  I’m going to have to enlist the aid of my long-time associate, The Butcher.

The Butcher’s real name is Teddy Cornmow.  Really.  He tells me whenever we hook up on a case that if I ever reveal his given name to anyone, he’ll jazz up my books so good that they’ll re-open a wing on Alcatraz just for me.  That’s what he does, Teddy.  He’s a numbers guy--a genuine Certified Public Accountant.  He’s got a Master’s Degree too, I think.  I'm not sure who christened him The Butcher, but if you ever saw what that fellow can do to a ledger, you'd applaud the moniker.  Odd thing about it though is that he does his 'butchering' in reverse.  You screw up your books to make yourself look kosher, and Teddy will go through them like a buzzsaw and undo each and every trick you think you pulled.  If you were ever alone with him in an elevator however, I doubt you’d be afraid to turn your back on him.  He’s 5 foot 3 when he’s stretching, wears glasses as thick as thermal-panes, and can barely bench press his two-year old nephew.  But Teddy’s still one deadly dude.

Teddy can find out anything about anybody and actually find anybody too, just based on their finances.  The phrase ‘follow the money’ wasn’t just made up for the movies.  Following the money is how Teddy makes his living.  A steady income flows his way via some covert governmental agency.  He volunteers nothing and I’ve learned not to ask.  All I know is he’s well protected and is on the side of apple pie and mom, so I have no quarrel with The Ted.  Besides, his resources are limitless.  In my line of work, a better friend I could not have.

Helping me out here and there doesn’t add more than a few bucks to his pockets, but he likes me, so he gives me a hand when I need it.  According to The Butcher, anyone who does whatever they have to do to get the job done is alright by him.  I don’t break the law--exactly, but if I ever need to bend it a bit for the greater good, then so be it.  However, I don’t smuggle coke, execute business partners, or bank a mil at my local branch.  I’m not sure how Teddy’s going to react when I ask him to follow the money where my own brother is concerned, but it’s got to be done.  Teddy’s never met George, but I’ve always talked him up whenever he was awarded some certificate or honor, and Teddy knows I’ve always been proud of my brother--personally and professionally.

Now, all I can think is who is George, really?  Is he part of some international drug smuggling operation?  Is he a Coast Guard Ops Specialist by day and a Cartel assassin by night?  George was nervous over breakfast and did I detect a bit of fear?  Was that an act for my benefit when in reality, he’s nothing more than a cold-blooded murderer?  Or has he gotten himself more deeply involved in a situation than he ever intended, and now believes there’s no way out?  He was so insistent that I remain at his cabin.  Does his only way out involve throwing me to his wolves?

I’m getting another headache and I left my liquid aspirin back at the cabin.  Of course, a headache will be the least of my worries soon because within the next few minutes, I’ll be doing the dead man’s float for real.  I can hear them coming alongside.  Soon they’ll be on deck.  I pulled the cabin door open and hung on to the knob with my right hand, stood the shotgun up and hung into the barrel with my left, pressed myself against the wall, and closed my eyes.  Well, Danny, here’s hoping they’re the bad guys.

I could hear a couple of different voices, but George’s wasn’t one of them.  Damn.  If they’re legit Coast Guard, they’ll stick their official noses into every nook and cranny, find me, find Danny, find my shotgun…

“…hasn’t been here that long.  He might be running late, but as long as the package is intact, there won’t be any problems.  At least, not from me.”

Whoever the man was, he obviously found his own conversation quite amusing because he started laughing.  Apparently, his associate also appreciated his comedic timing, because soon, they were both doubled over.  The punch line escaped me.

“The other one must be pretty ripe by now, but we’ll let George tuck him in for the night, after he takes care of our other problem.  He told Sonny that he‘s got everything all set up”

A different voice.  Another player.  Who‘s Sonny?  And George has been awarded the honor of disposing of Danny’s remains, but what other problem does George have?  Me?  What has George got ‘all set up’?  My elimination?

They were moving around the yacht, opening this and slamming that shut, walking heavy and loud.  They obviously believed that they wouldn’t be disturbing whoever else was on board.

“You do a count and make sure the package is intact and I’m going to make a call and report this as secure.  Then, we’ll head back.”

The footsteps moved away from my cocoon between the door and the cabin wall.  So, their job was just to make sure nobody touched their stash and keep the Coast Guard away by reporting it as a secured vessel, like maybe the owner just stepped off to enjoy a quick five mile hike into town for a burger and a beer.  Come to think of it, who is the owner of this yacht?  Was he the head of this drug ring, or just an unsuspecting dupe--like me?  What had brought Danny here and why was it necessary to take him out of the picture?  And, where‘s Janine in all this?  She and George and Danny used to be like The Three Musketeers.  Now that Danny’s no longer part of their ménage a trios, will it be just the two of them from now on or is Sonny the third spoke on their wheel?  If I never get out of this, I’m going to start carrying a flask.

“The package is in one piece.’  The second voice.  The underling, it would seem, since he got assigned the thrill of the count.

“We’re all good.  None of our crews will board her.  George should be back soon to clean up his mess, and arrange for the pickup.  He said it should all go down nice and easy.  I like nice and easy.  The pay‘s better.”

The first guy again dissolved into raucous laughter.  His sidekick offered up a slight tee-hee, as I’m sure he was duty-bound to do, and they both made their way up to the deck.  I could hear them start the motor and quickly move out towards their cutter.  I decided to try to think this through up on deck where I could breathe in some fresher air since Danny had started to become quite pungent.

I made sure the two visitors were far enough away before I went up and out.  I decided it would be better to exit the yacht and return to solid ground where I felt markedly safer.  Keeping an eye on the motorboat, and the cutter just in case, I went around to the back of the boathouse.  I took another quick peek through the window, and thankfully, it was as dusty and deserted as before.  Time to appraise my situation.

The guys on the yacht were Coast Guard Officers, and obviously, corrupt ones who are in on the drug deal.  They both know George, who may have had a hand in Danny’s murder.  George insisted I remain at his cabin alone, knowing I was without any transportation in case of an emergency.  He was jumpy--pissed off really, that I had been wandering about in the woods.  With all the drugs on the yacht, why hide one pack in the cabin?  Was George stupid enough to try to skim some off the top?  He had to have taken it with him when he left, but why?  Was he cutting a side deal?  Was Sonny the big dog?  The Coast Guard was George’s and Danny’s cover.  Was Janine’s the RCMP?

Too many questions that I can’t answer.  I’ve got to find a way back to the city and get in touch with The Butcher.  He’s my best bet to begin to get this nightmare unraveled.  The ringtone on my cell going off just now has caused a rather embarrassing stain down the left leg of my jeans.  I had never shut it down because I thought being waterlogged had brought about its permanent demise.

The name in the caller ID brought my nightmare to new heights.  It was George.  Okay.  George is calling me to find out if my cell’s got service.  He believes I’m at the cabin and he’s checking on me.  Come on, Frank, you don’t really buy that load of crap now, do you?  George is calling my cell to see if it works, but only for two reasons.  One, if I don’t answer, then he and his cohorts are free and clear because I’m taking a dirt nap on one of the trails around the cabin.  Two, if by some slim chance I should answer, then there’s been some kind of glitch with the hired help and he’s going to have to finish me off himself.  I’m not sure how to…

No need for me to worry about it any more because George’s call went to voicemail.  Thank God I’ve got The Butcher on speed dial…

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The prompt this time was to tell a story about a character facing the end of something--a job, a relationship, their sanity…, and to show how it all turned out by providing an ending.  My story deals with endings of a sort, and I hope you enjoy it.


I knew this was too good to be true.  I knew it from the very beginning, but I’ve lived in denial all these years.  Clarissa never loved me.  Maybe at first, but as soon as I introduced her to my Supervisor, Doug, the end of our marriage was on the horizon.  I believed I could prevent the destruction of our lives together, but what happened Wednesday morning made me realize all hope was lost.  I have no choice but to accept.  The end is near.

Clarissa’s always telling me I’m a complete failure in one sense.  She laughs, and tells me that I am very successful, both personally and professionally, but for that one shortcoming.  According to my wife, I always jump to irrational conclusions.  I’ve never understood how any person could ‘always’ do any one thing, but Clarissa assures me that I am the prime example.  If a situation appears to be going one way, I don’t see it through and await the natural outcome.  I decide from the start how it’s going to turn out and act on it without any feedback, evidence, or rational contemplation.  I will admit, overall, I’m usually wrong, but still.  It isn’t like Clarissa is a perfect little angel.  No, my friend.  That, she is not.

When I left for the office after breakfast, Clarissa was finishing her coffee while watching one of those game shows on TV.  Those come on in the morning, afternoon and some are on in the evening, and she watches every single one.  The housework waits until the 10:00 news comes on, the laundry waits until my favorite midnight movie, and dinner is generally a catch-as-catch-can affair.  But, do I denigrate Clarissa for this irresponsible and annoying habit?  Never.  When you love a person, you accept who, and what, they are.  Apparently, I’m the only one who can see that.

I got all the way to my car when I realized I had forgotten a file I needed for a meeting this afternoon.  As I opened the back door into the kitchen, I could hear Clarissa talking.  It sounded like she was on the living room extension.  The folder I needed was on the counter, and I was almost out the door, when I heard Clarissa say ‘Oh, Doug.  I just can’t wait’.

I’m not going to tell a lie here and say I decided to have one more glass of juice.  I planted myself in one of the chairs at the table and listened.  ‘Irrational conclusion jumper’, am I?  Well, we’ll see about that.

“Doug, it’s going to be fantastic.  I’ll tell him we need to get away for a nice romantic weekend.  It was so clever of you to rent both cabins.  That way, you can get everything set up in yours, and he’ll never suspect a thing.  I know how I’ll get him over there too.  Since you also paid for our cabin, I’ll say we need to take a bottle of something over to your place and share a drink to thank you.  That’s when we’ll let him have it.“

“We’ll leave Friday when he gets home and be there by 10:00.  We’ll head over to your cabin around 10:30, so have everything ready, so there won’t be any slip-ups.  We’ve got one chance to get this right.  Okay.  I’ll give you a call when I see his car pulling in the driveway Friday afternoon to confirm.  This is so exciting--I’m all tingly thinking about it.  Got to go.”

When I heard Clarissa hang up the phone, I grabbed my folder and went out the back door to my car.  I had left it running when I came back in, so I backed out as fast as I could.  I decided to stop at the diner down the street to get a cup of coffee and think.  Nothing was going on in my department till around 11:00, so I knew I’d have time for a muffin too.  When you realize that the people closest to you are planning to murder you in a couple of days, a muffin seems a small extravagance.

Thursday flowed smoothly without incident except Clarissa seemed quite uncharacteristically affectionate towards me.  I attend to my husbandly duty once per week as my father had instructed me, and Clarissa had stated on our wedding day that such an arrangement would suit her fine.  Saturday night was our scheduled session, but since my wife knew I wouldn’t be around for the next one, she seemed anxious to get one last bit of love-doveying in.  Needless to say, I was not in the mood to even share a bed with the one of the conspirators who was planning my demise, so I told her I had an intense headache and chose to retire early.  She informed me that I’d better feel great by tomorrow night since she had something special planned for us for the weekend.  I thought, sure.  Plans for us.  You and my boss kill me and I die.  Excuse me if I don’t throw confetti.

When I left for work Friday, I knew what I had to do.  Yes, it would be upsetting to me, but what choice did I have?  Doug hadn’t been in the office Wednesday or Thursday, but he was there big-as-life and twice-as-ugly on Friday.  Every time he passed my desk, he smiled, or patted me on the back.  I wasn’t sure what type of pre-homicidal ritual he was engaging in, but I didn’t want to raise any suspicion.  I simply smiled back and carried on.  If I refused to go, and upset their apple cart this weekend, it wouldn’t save me.  Clarissa and Doug would just come up with another plot to remove me from their picture, only next time, I may not know the details.  No.  My only chance was to play along and face them both on my terms.

When I arrived home Friday, Clarissa had our bags packed and lined up by the front door.  Naturally, I asked her about it.

“Darling, you’ll never guess.  Doug wanted to get away this weekend and since you’ve been working so hard lately, he thought you and I should get away too.  He rented two cabins out by Mt. Pierre Lake, one for him and one for us.  They’re right across the stream from each other and there’s this cute little bridge that connects them.  After we arrive and get our things inside, we should head over with a bottle of wine and toast our friendship and thank him for his hospitality.  Then we can enjoy the rest of the weekend in private and have a lovely, romantic time.  We need to leave soon though.  I don’t want to arrive too late.  It’s awfully dark out there in those woods.”

Charming.  ‘Then we can enjoy the rest of the weekend in private.’  Of course you will, because I’ll probably be some grizzly’s midnight snack.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea, Clari.  I’ll put the suitcases in the car.  Why don’t you check and make sure all the windows are locked, and all that good stuff.”

Boy, I’m good.  While she’s sealing up the house, I’ll get the extra small bag I packed early this morning.  Just a personal item I picked up especially for this trip.

Our cabin is very classy on the inside, not what one might consider a cabin at all.  All electric, running water, a fully stocked gourmet kitchen, and the furniture in the living room alone probably cost more than our entire house.  We arrived a little before 10:00 and I brought all the bags in.  Clarissa put the wine in the refrigerator to chill before we went over to Doug’s.  The time had come for me to take the bull by the horns and be the one to end our relationship.  She seemed quite taken aback by my accusations, but I informed her I had heard all about her and Doug’s brilliant plan.  She started crying and complaining about my irrational jumping.  Again.  At that point, I got my extra little bag out and made my position very clear to Clarissa.  I then took her over that cute little bridge to Doug’s.

When I kicked open Doug’s door, and shouted that I’d brought his whore to him, imagine my surprise when I saw mine and Clarissa’s parents, my co-workers, and our friends all standing around a table full of sandwiches, cakes, cookies, coffee and bottles of champagne.  The banner behind them read ‘Congratulations, Bobby, On Your Promotion to Supervisor’.  Doug had recently been promoted to Department Manager and I was wondering who would get his old job.  Obviously, it was me.

They had begun to yell surprise, but stopped mid-word when I entered.  It was probably due to the fact that I was covered in blood, had a hatchet in one hand and Clarissa’s severed head in the other.  Apparently, I’d done that irrational jumping thing again.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


What is the working title of your book?

‘Little Girl Lost--A Mo Pollniak Novel’

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wrote a short story for an anthology awhile back and I really enjoyed the characters I created for it.  The thing is, the stories in the anthology were supposed to deal with events taking place in the far distant future, so the setting in my story fit the bill.  The publisher subsequently vaporized (as happens, unfortunately), but I was fortunate enough to have my tale published elsewhere.

The characters stuck with me and the idea of writing them in present day and building a story around them, possibly a series even, has rolled around in my head for quite some time.  I was finally able to outline enough to be able to begin to draft the first novel, but I believe there are more interesting stories I can build around them for perhaps one or two more books.  Only time will tell.

What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not really sure about that.  It’s going to be a kind of crime fiction/thriller type of thing, with an element of darkness overshadowing it.  There’s also a number of elements integral to the story that one could label as mystery.  It’s probably a combination of all of those.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I wouldn’t know where to begin with this one.  I can’t think of anyone in particular, but since my main character is a PI, I would love to see someone like Columbo’s portrayer, Peter Falk.  He wasn’t all that concerned if he looked like he slept in his clothes (mine often does), or how others perceived him (mine never does).  He simply did what he needed to do, however he needed to do it, which is exactly how my Mo operates.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A PI, while working a missing persons’ case, discovers a dark family secret of murder and betrayal.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have seven books published by the same publisher, and my plan is to submit it first there.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m actually still in the outline stage.  Now, there are several sections that have been written, but will require editing once they’re added, of course.  They are only a small part of the whole story though, and there are still several critical points that I need to make a final decision on.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not sure how to answer this one.  I read a lot of true crime and crime fiction, but I’m not certain how I would compare my story with another.  It’s not just about one case, or one issue from a character’s past.  It’s a combination of a lot of factors that make up my story.  I really don’t know what to compare it to.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Creating the characters for the short story I wrote.  I feel there’s so much room to expand on them, both with their personal and professional lives.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

We know ‘bad’ guys have flaws, but so do good people.  I believe readers will find this interesting because my characters are like real people:  They are not perfect, they sometimes do the wrong thing for the right reason, and they do not always succeed.  They have friends, they have enemies, they have favorites and they have fears.  ‘Good’ or ‘bad’, something about each and every one of them will be something the reader can relate to.

This was sent to me by Matt Potter.  See his answers here.

I sent this to Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, B. R. Stateham, Ed James, Wright Forbucks, and Kevin R. Tipple.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Over at Terrible Minds, there's a flash challenge called The Epic Game of Aspects.  We were to obtain one Sub-Genre, Conflict/Problem, and Element to Include from the lists provided, and write a flash fiction short story of no more than 1,000 words.  We could manually choose from each of the categories, but it was much more fun to use the Random Number Generator.  Fate handed me a 3/14/5 combination, which turned out to be a Sub-Genre of Post-Apocalyptic, a Conflict/Problem of Revenge, and my Element to Include was A Dead Body.  Cool, yes?  I offer you A Matter of Honor.


I have never been permitted to touch my father.  My mother’s persistent despair led me to believe she wasn’t either; that is, unless he initiated contact with her for sexual release.  Not being privy to my parents’ intimate activities, nor desiring such, watching her withdraw into herself more each passing day, strengthened my suspicion she was his repository and nothing more.  Despite our less than conventional familial state, we lived well in terms of material matters--until the Great War.

This war to end all wars had been expected, even though mankind knew the potential consequences.  Unfortunately, power does corrupt, and the thirst for it is where the path to destruction begins.  All had fallen, and even those still on high were at their most vulnerable.  That was when they came.

They, who had watched and waited from afar until we were on our knees, descended upon us like the forces of Hell.  The Council of the Wise, who never missed an opportunity to remind us of our subservience, and their military element, who never missed an opportunity to administer immediate justice for any, and all, transgressions.  The Guards of the Realm had what we here on Planet Earth used to call bang-sticks, but their sticks delivered quite the bite with their bang.  Each contact left deep, bloody and painful ruts, and if the object of their wrath managed to survive such a confrontation, the infection that resulted from the wounds left them incapacitated.  It was at that point, the time when they had lost their ability to work on the lines in one of the Council’s weapon manufacturing plants, that they were exiled to the North.

The excessive nuclear fall-out from the Great War we had inflicted on ourselves had left the entire Northern Hemisphere desolate and dangerous.  Without shelter or sustenance, and with no means to curb the influx of deadly bacteria that ravaged their bodies, they were doomed to a slow and torturous demise.  We humans, with our desperate greed and foolish delusion of immortality, had engineered our own extinction; however, our coyotes came not from the desert, but from the cosmos, to pick our bones clean, and that is where my father enters the picture.

He was a scientist--an expert in the field of death, whether it be chemical or biological, and thus became quite valuable to the members of the Council.  His living quarters were located in one of the government sectors, and his days were spent utilizing technology far beyond that which any of this planet’s scientific elite could conceive of.  At his insistence, however, his wife and son were confined to the ranks of the factory workers, and my mother and I resided in one of the warehouses designed to house those on the lines.  Fed and hydrated once per day, we worked 18 hour shifts, assembling complex weaponry that would be used to overcome another unsuspecting world when ours no longer offered any resources.

I had always despised his inability to display any genuine emotion, but today, his true colors were at last revealed.  I hadn’t seen my mother for several hours, and while consuming my ration of water, I overheard a couple of the Guards discussing a dead body that had required removal from one of the laboratories.  They spoke of how one of the female humans had been selected for experimentation by Core Technician A. Randers, and the materials that had been introduced into her blood stream had caused her to literally implode.  The Guards found it quite laughable that this particular woman had, in death, resembled a squashed insect.  I knew then that revenge was now a moral imperative.  Core Technician A. Randers and his decimated specimen were my parents.

After dark, I crossed the compound, and entered the building where my mother’s remains were being held prior to disposal in one of the factory‘s furnaces, along with any and all possessions she had retained from the pre-invasion era.  I risked punishment in order to obtain some object she had treasured and kept hidden from those who had enslaved us.  When I entered the chamber that served as a mortuary, I saw her lying there, a pitiful and tragic testament to my father’s legacy, and made my decision.

I quickly searched through her meager belongings and found a tiny locket her mother had given to her as a child.  I don’t know how she had managed to conceal it from those barbarians, but during her brief lifetime filled with pain and isolation, she had still managed to maintain a link with a time of happiness and security.  I quickly exited the area and made my way to one of the outlying bunkers to retrieve one last item.  It was on my return to the dormitory when I was taken into custody.  I already knew my fate, but asked the unthinkable.  I volunteered to serve as host for my father’s next bio-weapon trial.

In spite of my violation of the Curfew Act, the Council praised my dedication to the development of more effective bio-hazardous serums.  I was anxious to be brought before my father since I had only heard his name mentioned over the years.  He looked older, but still possessed the same hard and unfeeling demeanor.

“Hello, father,” I said quietly.

He looked through me, and regarded me with the same interest as one would a laboratory rat.

“Place it into one of the cages at the back,” he told the Guards.

It.  That’s what I was now.  It was time.  I broke free of the Guards’ grip, reached down and retrieved the vial of the virus I had taken from the lab and hidden in my shoe.  I poured the lethal fluid into my mouth, grabbed my father by his shoulders and planted a great big sloppy kiss on his lips, sharing my toxic cargo.

“For mom,” I whispered, as the bang sticks were deployed while the skin on my face began to melt.  “For mom…”  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Lewis Peters' tantalizing thriller continues with Chapter 3.  Just in case you've missed the first two, follow the links below.  You will be VERY glad you did.

Now, you want more, don't ya!  


This week’s prompt was to craft a tale about a vamp, but to make this creature of the night turn out to be something quite unexpected.  I hope you get as much enjoyment out of reading my little tale as I did writing it.


I am quite distressed.  It’s early evening, and I’m taking a stroll around the neighborhood because something heavy is weighing on my mind.  I need to come up with a solution before I go home because I don’t want to cause my wife any worry.  She works at the county hospital, attends her club meeting, and arrives home just after darkness begins to fall.  She’s an incredible cook, and whatever she has planned for dinner will be magnificent.  Dessert, as always, will be a pint or two of the O+ from the hospital’s blood bank that she brings home for me.  They have plenty, and she knows it’s my favorite.  I adore it over ice with a twist of lime.  Mmmm….

I should probably tell you something that will help you understand this dire situation.  I’m certain, by now, you’ve guessed that I’m a vampire.  I know I’m not the typical, big screen devilishly handsome bloodsucker you’ve come to expect, but I’m a vampire just the same.  I was made quite by accident, a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it happened so long ago, the details aren’t really important.  Suffice to say, I was 67 at the time, and you are right to assume that through all these hundreds of years, I have remained a senior.  Once the deed is done, there’s no going back, or forward for that matter, so I have to admit I’d rather die and be reborn at 67 than at 7.  That would be quite traumatic.

Getting back to my problem, a bit of backstory so you can see the big picture.  I’ve been around for quite some time now, and to be honest, being a vamp isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  People you get attached to grow old and die and you have to keep seeking companionship; at least, I do, since I’ve never been one to enjoy being alone.

Now, you might be thinking, just give your beloved that special bite and make her like you.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out since most vampires do not seek their own kind to hang with.  Too much competition and all, so it’s not really an option.  Of course, there’s always letting the woman in on your little secret, but that usually results in two distasteful (pardon the expression) outcomes.  One, she runs screaming into the night, alerting everyone within earshot that you’re one of Satan’s spawns (I personally am non-denominational) and folks chase after you with stakes in one hand and hammers in the other.  Or, two, she nags you to nip her neck so she can fly around as a bat and get the dirt on all her neighbors.  See what I was up against?  I say, was, because that’s before I met Dorothy.

I had been run out of town a couple of counties over due to the first scenario above, and came upon this town that’s called Smytheville.  While seeking shelter for the next day, Dorothy came to my assistance.  She stated she was 52, worked as a laboratory technician, and was seeking extra income by renting out one of the rooms in her home.  To make a long story short, I became her boarder, then her friend, and eventually, her husband.  She hasn’t aged a day since we’ve met and she’s still the beautiful soul I married 15 years ago.  She knows all about me and neither ran away nor begged me to bite her.  She accepts me for who, and what, I am, and we live in a town full of loving and caring folks.  And, then along comes the snag of a lifetime.

As vamps go, I may be considered over-the-hill, but I can still sense when another is close, and boy, was there one close.  Earlier, while Dorothy was doing some last minute grocery shopping, I was at Rosie’s Diner downtown (I would walk a mile on my fangs for her coffee) when a young man came in.  I knew immediately what he was, and he recognized my affliction as well.  He joined me, uninvited, in my booth, and spoke quietly of matters vampire.  I have to tell you, I was quite offended, since I hadn’t spoken of such things since my arrival in town years before.  I could see he had been made young and that his power more than likely surpassed mine, so I smiled and listened.  I can’t think of anything I’ve regretted more.

“Well, fancy that.  One of us sitting in a diner in a nowhere town, sipping java.  After a few centuries, you can tolerate human food, huh?  Name’s Randall.  So, what’s the story about this burg, Pops?  Is the feeding good?”

His haughty laughter was irritating and insulting.

“Look, Randall, I don’t know how you ended up here, but this is a nice town.  The people here are simple and don’t bother anyone.  You don’t want to stake your claim here, so to speak.  Why don’t you head to the city?  It’s about 60 miles due west.  And, I‘m not your ‘Pops‘.  Name‘s Dave.”

I wasn’t sure I was getting through.  I knew for sure though that I was pissing him off.

“So, that’s how it is, Pops.  This is your territory and you don’t want to share.  Well, let me tell you how it’s going to be.  You see a town, I see a buffet.  I’m going to summon some of my buddies and, tomorrow night, we’re going to drain this town dry.  You can have any stragglers that wander in after we’ve gone.  Right now, I‘m going to pick up a snack, and then head home.  I‘ve rented the Miller place at the edge of town.  My friends and I will have plenty of room to dine there.  Just make sure you stay out of our way.  Pops.”

As I watched him walk out, for the first time in a lot of years, I felt fear.  Not for myself, but for my wife and our friends.  I knew something had to be done, but what?  I decided to take a walk and try to figure something out before Dorothy got home.

Millicent Danvers, in the next booth, had overheard the entire conversation.  She quickly sent a text to all the members of the Ladies Club calling for an emergency meeting at her house.  They’d go on from there.

When Randall arrived home, the members of the Ladies Club were waiting for him.

“What the hell are you old bitches doing in my house?  Do you have any idea who and what I am?  I could kill you all in the blink of an…”

He couldn’t believe his eyes.  It had to be some sort of trick with the lighting.  Every one of the ladies before him transformed into wolves with black eyes, long fangs and sharp claws.  They were all standing on two legs and stood at least 3 feet taller than his 6 feet.  A second or two later, the elderly ladies were back, although a couple of them still had a claw or two showing.  Dorothy spoke.

“Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, boy.  We are what you saw, and you’re not going to kill anyone.  If you don’t do what we say, we’ll rip the throats out of you and your vile friends.  You’re going to leave town before sun-up and make sure your friends don’t show up either.  Life is good here and we intend to keep it that way.  If you’re gone by morning, no harm will come to you.”

“What about the old dude at the diner?  Do the people in this town know they’ve got an broken down vamp and six werewolves living among them?”  Randall knew he didn’t stand a chance, but he had to keep up appearances.

“Dave, the ‘old dude‘, is my husband, and he doesn’t know about me or the rest of us.  Yet.  No one in town does.  We will tell those closest to us in our own time, but you’re not going to tell anyone.  Do, and the deal’s off, and you die.  Is that what you want?”

Randall shook his head.  He’d seen what one of them could do to a vamp.  It wasn’t pretty.  Maybe the city wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

When I got home, Dorothy was there.  At least I still had tonight to try to figure out how to dispose of Randall.  She’s the best, and I would want to die if anything happened to her.

“Hi, sweetie, dinner’s almost ready.  By the way, did you know some young man recently rented the Miller place, but he’s moving out already?  Isn’t that wild?”

Wow.  I guess I intimidated that young punk more than I realized.  I wasn’t aware that I was thinking out loud when I said “Big Daddy’s still got it.”

Dorothy heard me, gave me a big hug, and agreed.  She’s the best.