Thursday, May 26, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 39: Memory Lane

The prompt this week was to continue the story. It began as follows:

‘It’s Friday night, and you and your friends planned a fun evening. You all work together at the same factory, and a huge order came in on Monday morning that was due by 5:00pm today. It’s been a very stressful week, but the order was completed with time to spare. A celebration is definitely in order.

You all had a terrific time at the local bowling alley, and decided to finish the evening with cocktails and a late supper at the Chinese restaurant downtown. Dinner was superb, and everyone was looking forward to opening their fortune cookie. Each took a turn reading their fortune, but when it was your turn, you crumpled it up and put it in your pocket. You told your friends that it was one of those silly predictions that fame and fortune will find you soon. Everyone had a good laugh, paid the check, and headed home.

All except you. Sitting in your car, you pull your fortune from your pocket and read it again. It doesn’t promise you fortune and fame. Your message contains a threat. That would be upsetting enough, but what’s most troubling to you is that the message is addressed specifically to you. Your name, first and last, is typed right above the message.’

Please enjoy.

Memory Lane

This can’t be happening. My team got the big order done, so we went out to celebrate. As is our tradition, we bowled a few games, then went to Mr. Liu’s for supper. Everything was fine until I opened my fortune cookie. My message read ‘you will die soon’. A gag in poor taste? Maybe, except for the fact that my name, Michael Danvers, was typed right above the message. None of my friends reacted when I read mine, so I told them it promised me fame and fortune. So, now, sitting in my car and re-reading my fortune, I’m wondering who wants me dead.

I don’t know of anyone who would want to kill me. I have no relatives here, and my friends are my co-workers. We are all close, and I have no reason to mistrust any of them. I was recently promoted to Assistant Team Leader though, so maybe there’s some resentment about that. That doesn’t make sense, but let’s take a close look at my co-workers just the same.

My team consists of Richie Howard, Candice Bromley, Derrick Ganden, and Billy Vanderkreig. Richie’s already a Team Leader and Derrick’s close to retirement. Billy’s going to law school at night and once he graduates, he’ll leave to practice law. Candice moved here a few years ago, joined the company, and has been a dependable employee and a good friend since day one. Now what? Maybe someone at the restaurant?

Ridiculous. I’m not involved with anyone there. How could this happen? Wait. Our waiter, Tim, placed the fortune cookies in front of each of us on a small plate. It’s easy enough to pull the fortune out of those open-ended cookies and slide a new one in, but why would Tim deliver such a message to me? For someone else, obviously, but who? And why? I decided to go to Tim and ask him.

Tim lived in Mrs. Hopper’s Boarding House, but when I went to see him Saturday afternoon, she told me he hasn’t been seen since yesterday afternoon when he left for work. She’s worried since he always came back after work and locked the front door for the night. She told me his steady girlfriend’s worried too since she hasn’t been able to reach him. Now, I’m worried. I’m going to the police.

“A message in a cookie?” Detective Ralph Miller wasn’t exactly reassuring.

“I know it’s unusual, but it’s still a threat, and besides, the waiter that delivered it to me is missing. It’s only since last night, but his landlady and girlfriend are both concerned. He never just disappears.”

‘Mr. Danvers, if the young man is reported missing, we’ll look into it, but I don’t see what we can do for you. That note’s probably a bad joke, but if anything further happens, give me a call. Maybe the person who wrote it will reveal themselves to you in some way.”

Yeah. When he kills me.

I took the Detective’s card and went home. Tomorrow is Sunday, so I have one more day before going back to work. I wondered what that would be like. Would I be able to tell which one of my friends had murder in their heart?

Turns out I wouldn’t have to wait until Monday. I was finishing dinner when Candice called. She asked if I’d meet her tomorrow night by the picnic tables in the park. She had overheard someone talking about hurting me and couldn’t discuss it on the phone. If we met somewhere in town and that person saw her with me, she could be in danger. Poor kid’s scared.

I stayed in all day Sunday, and left for the park at 11:00pm. When I pulled up, I saw Candice sitting at one of the tables. I joined her.

“Candice, thank you for calling. You have no idea what I’ve been going through. What did you overhear? Wait. Why did you bring a gun?  Why are pointing it at me? I don’t understand. Was it you that made the threat? Why would you do such a thing?”

“You killed my fiancĂ©. I’ve waited years to make you pay. Once I found out where you lived, I moved here, and got a job where you worked, so I could keep track of where your life was going. You just got a promotion, and life is looking up for you, so it’s time to bring your world crashing down just like you did to Jack. You remember Jack Porter, don’t you?”

“Of course, I remember Jack. We grew up together and…you’ve waited years to do what?”

“Destroy you. I paid the waiter to deliver a special message to you so you’d doubt your friends. After what you did to Jack, you have no right to feel safe. Because of you, Jack was expelled, lost all his grant and scholarship money, and no other decent college would even let him apply.”

“You’re leaving out that Jack brought that on himself. He hacked into the college’s records and got answers to that batch of exams. He cheated, Candice, but that wasn’t the worst thing he did. He used my logins and student codes to access all that information. They were ready to expel me.”

“So, you recorded him admitting that he cheated and turned it over to the Administrators.”

“What else could I do? I wasn’t going to take the rap for what he did. He told me all about it and said there was no way they’d find out. But they have a whole department that looks into that kind of thing and they called me to the Admissions Office the next day and threatened to expel me. I had no choice.”

“He told you why he cheated. You knew his mother was an emotional vampire. Every time Jack had an opportunity to better himself, she would mess with his head and derail his plans. He was under so much pressure because of her that he couldn’t get all his studying done in time. He had no choice but to get into the computer system to get the answers.”

“You’re saying I should have allowed my reputation to be ruined?”

“Your reputation? Jack could have made things right for you, but he never got the chance.”

“Look, Candice, I’m sorry Jack got expelled, but he shouldn’t have put me in the middle of it. There’s no way he could have made things right. But, that’s all in the past. I can’t believe you want to kill me. What would that accomplish?”

“You don’t understand how much damage you did. We had kept our relationship a secret so his mother wouldn’t try to split us up. We were going to be married, and I was going to work while he was in school. After he graduated, I would get my degree. After you sold him out, he applied everywhere, but was always turned away. That kind of stain on your record follows you everywhere.”

“There had to be somewhere he could get his degree. You’re acting like it was the end of the world.”

“It was, for him. He kissed me goodbye one evening, and drove through the guard rail on Samson’s Bluff. He was dead on impact.”

“I had no idea.”

“Of course not. You never stayed in touch with him after you betrayed him.”

“You’ve got this all twisted, Candice. I was the one betrayed. I’m sorry for what happened to Jack, but like I said before, I didn’t ruin his life. He ruined his own. You can’t blame me for his death.”

“I can and I do. You took away his chance for a good life, and now I’m going to make sure you have no life at all.”

I looked at her gun hand and saw her tense up. All I could do was wait for her to pull the trigger. Suddenly, Detective Miller stepped out from a group of trees behind Candice and placed his gun to her head. There were two uniformed officers with him.

“Drop the gun.”

She lowered the gun and he took it from her.

“I thought you didn’t believe there was anything to this,” I said.

“We found the waiter’s body; the one she paid to serve you that special cookie. We found out another server saw her with him out in back of the restaurant a couple of times, and again, after closing the night he disappeared. We put a tail on both of you, and since you both were headed to the park late at night, we thought this might be a setup.”

The reality of the situation hit me hard. This lady I thought I knew murdered one man and planned to kill me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it is that the next time there’s an occasion for a celebration, it’s first to Bobby’s Bowl-O-Rama, then on to Steve’s Steakhouse. From now on, if I want to know what my future holds, I’ll see the fortune teller at the carnival.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 38: Seven Sisters

The prompt this week was to write a fantasy story that included a crisis. I offer you the story of the Seven Sisters.


“I am afraid, my husband. The darkness becomes more oppressive with each new day. The air is thick and it has become difficult to breathe. Mother’s magic is weak, and her spells no longer soothe.”

“My dear wife, I am also filled with great fear.”

“You feel fear, Drandegal? How is that possible? You are a warrior, one of the Five who guard the Gates of Infinity, and you have triumphantly led legions into battle against the forces of evil.”

“The warrior who feels no fear, my sweet, is a fool and is doomed to fall. However, he cannot permit his fear to be all consuming. He must use it to hone his senses and direct his focus on the completion of his quest.”

“I know the time will soon come when you must depart, my love. Can you share with me what dark forces have come to destroy our world?”

“The rift between our land and the world of the humans has been breached, Coseandra, and one of the seven deadly sisters banished to the land of the humans has entered, and threatens to destroy us all and pull through all her sisters to reclaim this territory as their own. Take heart, my sweet. I shall return to you, if only for us to perish in each other’s arms.”


“Lord Master of the High Council, I, Drandegal, Imperial Guard of the Gates of Infinity, stand before you in this time of great distress. My fellow warriors and I, along with the Protectors of the Realm, have sought to contain the presence of the deadly sister known as Wrath and to force her back through the rift into the world of the humans. My heart is heavy with the need to report that she becomes more powerful with each passing moment and the rift grows wider. It is with regret I must inform the Council that our efforts have failed. We beg the High Council’s indulgence and advice.”

“Drandegal, the invading sister has countered the magic of all who guard us. She is not the same as at the time of her exile. We have learned that while there are many humans who reject them all, there are many more who embrace each of them. They are filled with so much more power than when we first encountered them. We know of no way to prevent them all from coming through other than to seek the assistance of the Elder.”

“But, the Elder provides guidance to us all. If he should fail, we shall be lost indeed. But if he should succeed, he will be the one who…”

“We have no choice in the matter, Drandegal. The Elder’s son protests, but this is the only way. I regret it must come down to this, but it is his purpose, and he knows this to be so. He must become Sister Wrath’s host and cross the rift into the world of the humans. He is the only one with magic powerful enough to close the rift behind him. He must accept her before the others come through. Anger and Lust hover at the edges of the rift as we speak and continue to grow stronger.”

“But once the Elder becomes host and passes through, he must remain, and will be destroyed.”

“It is true. But without his sacrifice, our world will be destroyed and the Seven Sisters will reign again. He wishes the Five, the Protectors, and all Members of the High Council be present. He said it would honor the event if we all would witness. Once he has passed through, his son will become Elder of the land in his place. It is time.”


“Husband, I’ve never seen you in such a state. It was painful, yes?”

“Painful indeed, dear Coseandra. He embraced his son, the Five and the Protectors and blessed us all. He read the spell from the Book of the Ancestors and Sister Wrath consumed him. She beckoned for the others to make their way through, but before they could, he cast himself into the rift. Once on the Earth side, he spoke the spell to seal the opening. We could all hear the screams of the Seven Sisters who had been denied entry. Unfortunately, we could also hear the screams of the Elder as he crossed. He knows he is forever lost and can never return to his home.”

“Will it be no comfort to him that his son and his people have been saved?”

“No, dear wife. As soon as the rift was sealed, his mind was corrupted and he became one of the seven in body and soul.”

“Will it remain closed, Drandegal? Are we now permanently safe from harm?”

“I wish it were true, but danger remains. Our ancestors carved this world of ours from the void. The Seven Deadly Sisters ruled with cruelty and stood defiant. They denied us sanctuary and promised only slavery and death. But our forefathers’ magic was strong and they were defeated. They were sent through the portal back to the world called Earth from which they originally came.”

“But, if Earth had always been their home, why return here?”

“It is in their nature, dear wife. Two of them, Sisters Greed and Lust, find no contentment and must always seek to conquer that which belongs to others.”

“So, the danger remains.”

“Yes, Coseandra. When you couple the Sisters with the humans, the danger is twice as lethal. The humans are a malicious race, and are always looking to overthrow and enslave. We must be vigilant. Our world will never be completely safe. Not from their kind.”

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 37: Raising the Dead

The prompt this week was to write a detective story, and one of the main characters must be a mother. Some prefer the past to remain past. If only it would…

Raising the Dead

“Mom, I know I’m here to visit, but I can’t turn this down. The richest man in town’s been murdered and his wife, who is 30 plus years younger than he, is the only suspect. She asked if there was a PI in town, someone referred her to me, and she hired me to look into it. Why are you so upset?”

“Ralphie, how can you get involved? Young woman like that marries a man so much older that’s worth millions and he’s found beaten to death? It’s so obvious that she did it.”

“Mom, just because she’s younger doesn’t mean she killed him.”

“The paper says Tommy Fitzhugh saw her and her husband walking into that deserted apartment building on Fourth. Then, Bob Wilson saw her toss the tire iron she beat her husband with into the dumpster at the corner. Tommy and Bob are at the diner in town every day for lunch. They’re still talking about it.”

So much for not tainting the jury pool.

“Mom, I’m only going to ask a few questions.”

“Fine. Just don’t turn your back on that floozy, Ralphie.”

“Mom, how can you talk that way about someone you don’t even know?”

“Just be careful. Don’t dig too deep into this, Ralphie. Some things are best left buried.”

Mom’s favorite line. I sometimes wonder if she realized all things eventually make their way to the surface.


When I had spoken with my client, she told me she and her husband had been happy. On the night he was killed, she said he received a phone call and went out, but she didn’t know who called him or where he was headed. After he left, she said she too received a call about a friend, but when she arrived to meet the person who called her, no one showed up.

The case against Mrs. Halverson was pretty flimsy, but since it came down to two witnesses and a lot of gossip, it may hold up in our small-town court; especially if the jury is made up of the gossipy old biddies that live here.

I decided to start by re-interviewing the two witnesses. I didn’t want to step on any toes, so I checked with the Chief of Police first. He told me I could talk to whoever I wanted since the case was, in his words, ‘all wrapped up’ and the ‘widow’s arrest was right around the corner’.

I wanted to speak to Fitzhugh and Wilson privately so as to eliminate any attempt at grandstanding in front of the locals. I found Tommy in the hardware store where he worked.

“Can we go in the back, Mr. Fitzhugh? I just want to confirm your statement to the police.”

“I’ll tell you what I told the cops. I was taking my nightly walk that everybody knows I take, by the way, when I saw them. I always go down Fourth past those old apartments, and then stop at the drug store at Fourth and Taylor to get my wife’s tonic. Something bright caught my eye and when I looked, there they were. Mr. Halverson was walking in the front door and his wife was right behind him. I knew it was her with all that long blonde hair. She had on a white outfit and her sparkly bracelets were flashing in the streetlights. I thought it was odd, but didn’t say anything until the next day when I heard she reported him missing. I told the cops what I seen and they found his body right there inside the lobby.”

“There’s nothing else that you can remember?”

“There is nothing else, Ralph.”

“Well, thank you for your time, Mr. Fitzhugh.”

“Wait. There is one thing that just occurred to me. Maybe you could tell the cops for me. I just remembered how odd I thought they looked.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just that whenever I saw them in town, she was so much taller than him, you know? But that night, she looked a lot shorter. Maybe she wasn’t wearing her high heels that night. It sure was odd.”

“Thanks, Mr. Fitzhugh. I’ll be sure to mention it to the police.”

Odd indeed. Mr. Halverson was 5 feet, 5 inches tall – the same as me. His wife towered over me since she was well over 6 feet in slippers, which is what she was wearing when I met with her in her home. I was very anxious to hear what Bob Wilson had to say, and found him having his lunch in the park.

“Mr. Wilson, could you tell me what you saw the night Mr. Halverson was killed?”

“She’s guilty, Ralph. The Chief said so, but I’ll tell it again. I was visiting my wife’s grave as I always do before I go to bed, and I saw this person all in white across the way. Well, it was Mrs. Halverson because she’s the only woman in town with all that long blonde hair. She had on a white coat and pants and diamonds and was trying to throw something into the dumpster. In the streetlight, I could see it was a tire iron. First though, she was wiping it off with a rag, I think.”

“What do you mean, ‘trying to throw’?”

“Well, it seemed hard for her, even though a tire iron isn’t that heavy. She seemed to have trouble lifting up her arm.”

Something told me it was her left arm.

“Which arm was it, Mr. Wilson?”

“Her left, Ralphie. She was having trouble lifting up her left arm.”


I think I always knew she was guilty. All those years of whispers and secrets. It wasn’t all that hard to fit the pieces together. Mom was right. I have always been good with puzzles. When I walked into the living room though, I have to admit I was surprised to see her pointing a gun at me.

“Really? What would be the point? I notified the police before I came here and they’re outside waiting for me to bring you out. Did you actually believe you could get away with two murders and one attempted murder? And now, you’re going to shoot me?”

“They all needed to die, especially Griffith. That first wife of his would have been dead too if he hadn’t come home early from his business trip. Since pushing her down the stairs didn’t kill her, I was going to finish her off by strangling her, but I ran out the back when I heard the key in the front door lock.

“I don’t want to hurt you, but I’m not going to jail because I did nothing wrong. They all deserved what they got. Now, get out of my way because I’m walking out of here. We both know there are no police outside.”

“Missus,” the Chief of Police announced from the front yard. “If you have a weapon, you need to put it down and come outside with your hands up. There doesn’t need to be any more killing.”

“You would do this to me? You could never understand.”

“I do. I understand all of it. You told me not to dig too deep into this? I’ve been digging into this one way or another all my life. You had an affair with Griffith Halverson and became pregnant. He told you he couldn’t marry you because you were both already married and he couldn’t afford the scandal. You thought you could solve both problems with murder. You killed your husband and tried to kill his wife, but she survived and ended up paralyzed. In spite of the affair with you, his devotion to her was strong. He cared for her all those years until she died recently.

“In the meantime, you raised the child totally on your own. After his wife died, you believed he would marry you, and make up for all those years you struggled. But, what did he do instead? He brought a young woman into his home, married her, and still refused to acknowledge you or his son - me.

“You called Halverson with some bogus story and told him to meet you by those apartments to prevent the scandal of anyone seeing you two together. You wore a wig, a white suit and flashy jewelry because you knew Tommy Fitzhugh would walk by and see you. Once inside, you killed him. Then, you called his wife, made up a story about a friend needing help, and told her to wait in the school parking lot which was deserted at that hour so she wouldn’t have an alibi. You also knew Bob Wilson would see you toss the tire iron into the dumpster. You should have tossed it in with your right arm. Your left’s been weak since that fall you took when I was nine.

“Put the gun down now, and I’ll walk out with you. The time has come to do the right thing, Mom.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 36: Making the Right Move

The prompt this week was to write a story that included a romance. How something, even a relationship, looks, depends on who is doing the looking. Perception is reality, after all. I'm using one of my favorite stories that I wrote awhile back for a romance prompt, and I think it fits in nicely. I hope you enjoy.


Sylvia was feeling quite apprehensive about this evening’s possible outcome. It was her fifth date with Burt Downy, the Stockroom Manager at Tilson’s Market, and if the past was any indication, tonight would be when he made his move. At the conclusion of the fifth date had been when all the others before him had made their moves on her--all eleven of them, in fact. But, she had been alert, aware, and on guard as Mother had instructed her to be, and she had escaped their clutches unscathed. All eleven times. She hoped with all her heart that Burt was different, but considering that he had requested she prepare a home-cooked meal that the two of them could enjoy privately in her dining room, the prognosis was dim at best. He wanted to be alone with her in her home on their fifth date. Oh, how history repeats itself. Yet, still she hoped…

Burt was ten minutes early, but he knew how important punctuality was to Sylvia. He did not want to disappoint her--not tonight. He needed her to be completely at ease and without suspicion. One opportunity was all he would have, and everything about tonight must be flawless. He had already experienced this evening over and over in his mind, meticulously planning every word, every action. All that was left was to fit Sylvia into the scene. She didn’t know it yet, but soon it would all be very clear. Soon. Burt rang Sylvia’s doorbell.

When Sylvia opened the door, Burt noticed her blouse was buttoned up all the way to the collar. Her sleeves were long, with folded cuffs covering her wrists, and her skirt completely hid her feet. All this time we’ve been together and she’s still so proper, he thought. Interesting. Sylvia pulled Burt in and pushed him into the dining room.

“Dinner’s all ready,” she said, shoving him into his seat. Best to just go along and try to throw him off his game. “You see, it’s all on the table, nice and hot, right from the oven. I made roast chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, rolls, apple pie, and my special iced tea that you love so much. You can’t get a more home-cooked meal than that, can you?”

Burt was impressed and knew he had made the right decision.

“Sylvia, before we have our meal, there are a few things I need to say to you and something I’ve wanted to do since the first time I saw you. I don’t want you to say anything until I’m finished, okay? I’m already more nervous than I thought I would be.”

So now it begins, Sylvia thought, giving orders, and the desire for complete control. Textbook typical.

“Sylvia, the first time our eyes met, I felt a stirring in my soul that I’ve never felt before. I will admit I’ve dated a few times, but it generally didn’t turn into anything. I’d pretty much given up on finding the perfect woman. But then, I met you, and I knew you were the one.”

So, she thought, I wonder what it was about me that slotted me in--made me fit the pattern--made me THE ONE.

“I know this is only our fifth date,” Burt continued, “but I am certain I want to look no further. I don’t want you to look any further either and tonight, I’m going to make sure that the thought of seeing anyone else never crosses your mind.”

Oh my God, she thought. It’s really true. He’s going to do it. This is really going to happen. Again.

"I’m rambling, I know, so let me get to the point. Sylvia Potter, I have a surprise for you that I’m sure you never expected. Now, just close your eyes and…”

“And WHAT? You’ll tie my hands behind my back and drag me to the bedroom and ravage me and then slit my throat from ear to ear? Or maybe you’d rather strangle me with my own pantyhose? Well, brother, you can’t kill me with those because I’m wearing sandals. Outsmarted you on that one, didn’t I, mister man?”

Burt was confused. What was Sylvia going on about?

“Sweetheart, what are you saying? All I want to do is…”

“I know what you want to do. You came here to kill me in my own house just like all the others wanted to do. But I figured them out and I figured you out too. ‘I’m the one’ and “you’re going to make sure I don’t want to see anyone else’. I know what that means. Choose, then stalk, then murder. What kind of a fool do you take me for?”

“Murder? How can you think such a thing? Why, I would never harm a hair on your head. I don’t understand you at all.”

Burt drank half his glass of iced tea.

“Please, let me explain. I…” Burt grabbed the table to stop himself from falling off the chair. Why was he suddenly dizzy.

“I mean, I wanted…“ Why did his head feel like it was going to explode. He’d never had a headache in his entire life.

“What is hap…” Burt was finding it impossible to get a breath.

Burt clutched at his heart, slid from the chair, and when he collapsed dead on the carpet, a small box fell from his shirt pocket. Sylvia picked it up and opened it.

“Oh my,” she said. “What a beautiful sparkly ring. The stone isn’t quite as large as most of the others, but it’ll do. Splitting it would make a pair of lovely earrings. Imagine him thinking that I’d wear jewelry that belonged to his dead mother or whoever while he was making me breathe my last breath. Where on earth do these men get their crazy ideas?”

She hoped Stan Burgess, who re-shelved books at the downtown branch of the library wouldn’t get any crazy ideas. Their first date was scheduled for tomorrow night and he was planning to take her out for burgers and fries and then to a movie at the Multi-Plex. She’d have to tidy up the house, especially the dining room, so she could invite him in for coffee and cookies after. There was plenty of time though. First, she’d enjoy the delightful meal she’d worked all afternoon on. Of course, she’d put on a pot of coffee for herself as a beverage. After all, the cyanide she’d mixed in with the iced tea wouldn’t go too well with apple pie…