July’s Prompt

So, this month I am actually trying and succeeding at getting things done when I mean to. Starting with getting my short story prompt posted early. Without further ado, here is July’s prompt:

“The yellow lines on the highway sped by in a blur, and we flew through the night, and we felt free. But we weren’t, and we knew it. We were running away from something, and running away was never the path to freedom. I thought about telling John to turn back. I thought about suggesting…”

I can’t wait to get into this one. I feel like it has the potential for some sort of paranormal or sci-fi element. If you haven’t read any of my previous stories of the month, my stories do have a tendency to have a sci-fi or fantasy bent to them. Last month’s story “Crime Scene” didn’t start that way, but it eventually got there.

In addition to my story of the month, I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo’s month long writing challenge. I am using one of my previously posted stories as a jumping off point for a novel — “Unicorns Are Really Vampires.” If you are participating too, good luck with your project!

Happy writing and reading this month!

Advertisements

Crime Scene

Reporters are trained to develop a sixth sense, a nose for when a story smells fishy. And something about this one wasn’t right. First of all, Captain Evers was too eager to share. He was never willing to parlay with the press unless pressured. Additionally, the cops were giving us the “it was a gas explosion” bull-shit again. 

I walked back to the news van and pulled out my notebook. Scanning quickly through my most recent press release list from the PD, I counted five “gas explosions” in five months. One a month in fact. That’s what they call a pattern. 

I immediately called my brother. As I listened to this cell ring, I kept saying “pick up, pick up,” under my breath. On the sixth ring, it went to his voicemail. Typical. 

“This is Detective Sean Fox, I am unavailable….” I waited for the beep. 

“Sean, this is your sister. I want to talk to you. I feel like we haven’t had a nice visit in a long time.” I was trying to keep the eagerness out of my voice. “Meet me at Tom’s at 7 pm. Dinner and drinks on me.” I hung up and knew he would be there. I needed to know what the cops were hiding. Lying to my brother was a small price to pay for getting a story — a real story. Now, I just had to convince him to open up to me. That was easier said than done. 

My brother was a good cop, and sister or not, he knew better than to tell the press something that Captain Evers was purposely hiding. There were times when I was surprised that Sean had chosen to become a cop, but then again, being nosey was part of being a detective as well as a reporter. We liked to puzzle together the pieces and get our story — we just had different motives for wanting the story. My brother would probably say he was helping dole out justice. I am more honest with the world than that; I want the truth so I can sell it to make a name for myself. It’s not pretty, but it’s the cost of being a field reporter. 

***********

The small talk was winding down. We had talked about mom and dad, and Sean told me he had just ended yet another in a number of relationships with a woman who couldn’t handle being with a cop. 

“It’s the long hours. I think at first they don’t realize that it’s never going to let up. There is no slow season on crime,” Sean said as he finished his beer. 

I didn’t really care why women didn’t want to stay with him; that was his business. I was trying to figure out how to change the subject without being too obvious and deep in thought, I didn’t hear what he asked me. 

“Earth to Mary,” Sean was saying as he looked at me with one eyebrow raised. “Did I lose you there for a minute?

“Yes,” I said. “I was just zoning out a bit. You know, work stuff.” I looked at him expectantly. 

Sean folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in his chair. As he glared at me, he said, “Ah ha. Here’s the truth then. You didn’t want to have a nice dinner, you want a story.” 

I shrugged. “Come on, Sean. You know me.”

He cut me off before I could continue, “Yes, all work and no play. Even when it comes to having dinner with family.” He stood up and reached in his wallet dropping $20 on the table. “That should cover my part.” 

As he tried to leave, I blocked him. “Stop. Sean, don’t leave. It was wrong of me to lie to you, but…” 

He shoved past me and was out of my reach before I could do anything else. 

I shouted at him, “I know there have been five incidents in the last five months. I know Captain Evers is covering it up. And I know they’re not gas explosions.” 

He stopped. He came back over to me and whispered, “Don’t.” He looked tired and he rubbed his temple before he continued. “I don’t want you involved with that. Do yourself a favor and find a different story.” 

“Why? Is it something horrible?” My voice sounded eager and I checked my enthusiasm as Sean glared at me. “Serial killer? Arsonist? What?” Sean just kept shaking his head. 

He placed a hand on my shoulder and said, “Stay away from that story, Mary. You don’t want to be involved with that craziness.” 

Craziness? That left me confused. What would a cop of over a decade consider crazy? I was gearing up to press him some more when he turned and left. 

I grabbed my stuff and dumped some money on the table and caught up with him just as he was getting in his car. 

“Please, Sean. I need a good story.” 

He sighed. “This is not that story, Mary. Trust me.” 

“Seriously, what’s got you so nervous to talk about this one? Just give me a hint. A tiny, teeny hint. I’m your sister.” I was begging but didn’t care. Anything to get the story I desperately needed. 

I will never know if it was the pleading or just that he really thought he could change my mind. 

“Get in,” he said as he slid into his sedan.

************

He drove us to the crime scene that the Captain had talked about that day. As we walked up the steps and past the crime scene tape, my brother stopped and turned to me. 

crime scene

“Listen, Mary. I am showing you this, but after I do, I fully expect you to walk away from this. Nothing good can come from being mixed up with… Whatever this is.”

Walk away? Did he know me at all? Clearly not. And why was he being so vague? Did he not know what was really behind these doors? Or was he just trying to creep me out? He was my older brother after all, that wasn’t completely outside the realm of possibility. 

We entered the brownstone and walked into the hall of what appeared to be a nicely kept household. My brother went up the stairs and I followed close on his heels. He stopped as we came to the first doorway. He gestured for me to proceed into the room. 

“Go ahead. Take a look,” he said. “I will wait out here. I’ve already seen it.” 

I shrugged as I walked past him into the room. It turns out, my brother was right. Seeing it once was enough. The first thing that hit me was the smell. I instinctively covered my nose and mouth. I only took three steps into the room. I didn’t need to go in any further. I scanned the room trying to take it all in. 

Horrific doesn’t begin to cover what I was seeing. There were two twin beds in the room, one on either side of where I was standing. The beds were covered with delicate pink ruffled comforters. On top of each bed was what I assumed were the remains of the two girls who shared the room. Though to be honest, it was hard for me to say that what I was seeing was human, let alone female remains. I knew enough about anatomy to recognize what appeared to be two bodies completely removed of their skin. What was stranger was that I could also tell there were no bones. How the hell does someone remove skin and bones but leave everything else intact? Something else occurred to me as I turned to leave. Where was the blood? This had to be a secondary scene. You can’t remove skin and bones without leaving a mess. 

I shook my head at that thought. I went back in the hall and leaned on the railing breathing deeply for a minute. “What? I mean. How?” I couldn’t get words out. 

“Come on. Let’s go get some fresh air.” 

We left the crime scene and went to the closet coffee shop. We just sat there for several minutes before I began. 

“Sean, have all five ‘gas explosions’ been like that?” I gestured vaguely in the direction of the house we’d just left. I shut my eyes, which it turns out was a bad idea. I saw the remains posed on the beds when I did that. Posed? Why did I think of them as posed? Because I knew that was true. Someone had ​posed them like that. 

“Yes.” 

Apparently, I was going to have to pry the information out of him. “Sean. You have to give me more than that after what I just saw. Why are you guys covering this up? People should know about this?”

“Stop right there,” he said. “How would the public knowing about that help anyone? It would just create panic. Honestly, we don’t even really know what’s going on.” He sighed. “The Captain doesn’t want the press running with it mostly because it will make the whole force look like incompetent assholes.” 

“Why? Clearly you have the work of a serial killer. A very sick one.” I sat back in the booth and tried not to think of the smell or what I had just seen.

“We don’t know that actually. You saw it. We have remains. We have no easy way of identifying the remains from any of the crime scenes. I am sure you noticed the lack of skin.” Once he started, he told me everything he knew. “Did you also notice the lack of bones? There are no finger prints. No teeth. We have to use bone marrow DNA samples because there is also an alarming lack of blood. We haven’t even found primary crime scenes for any of them.” 

I shook my head. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. How could they have nothing after 5 months? 

“Listen, Mary. You may have noticed the horrific nature of this story, but there are other reasons I want you to steer clear of this one.”  

I gestured for him to continue. 

“The Feds are taking over. They have a special unit working these cases. Did you notice we haven’t moved the bodies yet? They were discovered late last night and yet those two little girls or what’s left of them is still laying in their beds instead of on a morgue slab.”

I looked up at this. I hadn’t thought of that. Why leave them after processing? 

Sean continued, “The Feds are working this from a paranormal perspective. They think aliens or some shit are involved.” 

“I’m sorry. Do you really expect me to believe that the government – our government – thinks that e.t. and his cousins are killing little girls and leaving their insides behind?”

He sighed again. “Yes. That’s why you should stay away from this one. I don’t want you mixed up with the weirdos working this.”

I shook my head. Could I walk away from this? Reporters who were associated with paranormal stories didn’t usually end up with all the glory. They usually ended up working for the National Inquirer tracking down bigfoot and captioning blurry photos of the Loch Ness Monster and UFO sightings. 

 

 

 

 

June’s Prompt

Accomplish

ACKKKKKK!

That’s honestly how I feel right now. So, every month it seems like I get later and later with my first post for the month. However, this month has been the worst so far. I am not happy about it, and I will endeavor to do better. All I can say is that LIFE IS HAPPENING. Not all good, not all bad, but I am dealing with some things right now.

Despite that, I fully intend to post my story this month. BUT what is the prompt this month?!

Well, without further ado, here is this month’s long awaited story prompt:

Reporters are trained to develop  a sixth sense, a nose for when a story smells fishy. And something about this one wasn’t right. First of all, ….

I am excited about this month’s story, and I don’t want to give away what’s to come. But luckily, it’s already the 18th so not long to wait for this month’s short story!!

Happy writing and reading this month!!

Family Road Trip

“Bobby was sleeping on the snow wrapped in his cloak. The wind whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with winter…”

“Stop it!” I yelled at Bobby again for what felt like the fifteenth time. We were in the back seat of our parent’s car traveling across country on another ‘fun family adventure.’

My little brother was pretending he was a ranger in Game of Thrones. I didn’t want to listen to him narrate his adventure in third person anymore. Not only did he constantly pretend to be a part of his favorite show, but he always talked in third person. He was driving me crazy. The only thing worse than mandatory family fun was being stuck in the car in 110 degree weather with my little brother.

depositphotos_25369803-stock-photo-family-road-trip-summer-vacation

“As Bobby lay shivering in his cloak. He could feel eyes watching him.”

“Bobby!” I yelled again. “Mom! Please make him stop.”

“Bobby stop bothering your sister.” My mom said as she continued to read from the romance novel clutched in her hand.

Bobby crossed his arms and glared at me.

I just glared back. I decided to ignore him for now and tried to focus on whatever we were rushing past outside the car.

“Here’s our stop.” My dad said as he pulled the car next to a gas pump. “Everyone out. Pee and get drinks and snacks. Next stop wont’ be for awhile.”

I got out into the heat and was blinded by the sun reflecting off the tin roof of the nearby convenient store. I walked around the car and bumped into Bobby.

“Bobby awoke the next day…”

I just shook my head as I walked past him and into the store.

Quarterly Check In

It’s April!! And this month I am determined to get things done sooner rather than later. So, with that in mind, here is this month’s short story prompt:

“How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought she…

If you want to write a story too, let me know and I will happily share it at the end of the month when I post my own.

At this point, we are 25% through 2018! Which seems crazy. This year is going really fast for me. My goal this year is to write a short story every month. To date, my stories are:

January’s story: We Found Oil

February’s story: A Mage Like Any Other

March’s story: Crash Site

I have managed to post at least one story and two other posts each month and for now, I am sticking with that goal. One of my other yearly goals is to complete at least 1/2 of my novel. I am aiming for 100,000 words for it. It is currently at 26,000 in length. Hopefully I can reach that goal too.

How about you? How are your goals going?

Another goal I always set each year is a reading goal, and I am sad to say that in the last 3 years I have not reached my goal. I get pretty close but have not actually finished. This year my goal is 45 books. I have already read 13 this year, so I have a really good feeling about this year’s chances.

Well, that’s enough from me for now.

Happy reading and writing this month!

muse

Crash Site

I’ve lived in this town my whole life, and most of the time that’s fine by me. But in late fall when the sky fills with birds migrating south for the winter, traveling thousands of miles, I get homesick for places I’ve never been. Places like Egypt, Rome, Paris, anywhere but here.

In this town, every day is the same. I’ve known everyone here my whole life. No one ever leaves this place and no one ever comes here to stay. We get a fair number of tourists, but even that number dwindles every year. What used to bring people here just isn’t that exciting anymore. In a few more years, this town will be relegated to the same status as the “Home of the World’s Biggest Ball of Yarn” or “The World’s Largest Rocking Chair.” It will be another roadside attraction that collects dust and a sometimes road trip stop for hipsters and low-income families.

I was born after the crash, so to me, the site is nothing more than a local landmark. Since the crash site is damn near the center of town anyway, it provides a really useful directional tool for giving directions. “Take a right at the crash.” Or, “Left past the crash and then there’s the Piggly Wiggly.” I don’t think many people really think about what the crash represents anymore; for better or worse, it’s become a backdrop to our everyday lives.

The crash in our town was one of the early ones, which is what garnered it the little bit of fame it does have. It’s also one of the most intact sites still in existence; the others have been pilfered by tourists, the government, and collectors.

When I say that most people don’t think about the crash much, that of course doesn’t count the exception to that rule — the TRUE EARTHERS. They are a fanatical group born out of the time following the aliens coming to Earth. Once the crashes started becoming a frequent thing, international forces rallied together and negotiated with the incoming aliens. And despite the majority of people wanting to handle things peacefully, there were those who opposed the diplomatic approach.

Early on it was clear that the aliens meant no harm. The crashes were their ships malfunctioning entering our atmosphere. Ships that arrived later landed successfully and brought a small number of aliens to live among us. They now live among us and for the most part it’s a peaceful existence.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone likes them here. As I said, the True Earthers would like to kill all the aliens. They don’t believe we should share our planet. They believe the aliens are just the first of many invaders.

And today must be my lucky day because as I’m standing at the diner counter, in walks the head of the local chapter of True Earthers. I close my eyes and wish to be anywhere but here. All I can think is please let me really be sipping coffee in Paris or standing in the dry air of the Sahara. Anywhere but here. I hear Dirk walk through the door and make his way to his usual table where two others are waiting for him. I muster my patience as best I can and grab a menu.

“Here you are, Dirk. Would you like to hear the specials?” I ask.

He looks up at me slowly and snatches the menu from me. “No specials. I will look at the menu for a bit. Scurry along little worker bee.”

“Just let me know when you are ready to order.” I walk away but don’t’ return to my place behind the counter. Instead, I head in the back to the kitchen. I wave at the cooks as I pass through to the dish room. There is my best friend, and one of the few aliens who still lives in our town.

“Guess who is here, worker bee?” I say loaded with sarcasm.

At the sound of my voice, Glek looks up. He grins in that overly toothy way that all his kind do. He looks like your stereotypical “little gray man.” Except, I wouldn’t call him little; he is actually a couple of inches taller than me. He is just absurdly skinny. The other exception to the “gray men” stereotype is that the aliens who landed on Earth don’t have solid black eyes. Like us, they have pupils and irises. Glek has blue eyes like me. It’s one of the reasons he and I became friends in kindergarten.

Glek and I always mimic the weird linguistic choices of the True Earthers. We both find their terminology ridiculous. True Earthers refer to non-threatening non-believers, like me, as worker bees. I don’t know why they use bee hive terminology as part of their belief system, but they do.

“Well, little worker bee, you could always say you have a head ache and go home. Just don’t deal with him today.” When Glek started talking, he was grinning, but that changed as he went on. He knew that Dirk and I didn’t get along.

“Not a bad idea.” I said. But I sighed and added, “I need the money though.”

Glek nodded his understanding, “Don’t we all, little bee.”

“See you later. I better get back out there.” I said as I left the dish room and returned to the front of the diner.

The rest of my shift was mostly uneventful. Dirk was in a more pleasant mood than usual and didn’t harass me. He didn’t even use one derogatory term to refer to me, which he did on most occasions because I was friends with Glek.  At the end of my shift, I waited out by my car for Glek. He was coming over to watch the newest episode of our favorite show.

As Glek came out of the restaurant a large truck came around the side of the building. I looked up and Glek hurried over to me.

“Get in the car and get out of here.” He told me as he practically shoved me in the car.

I pushed back. “No. I will not leave you here alone.”

By this point, the truck had pulled up and was blocking the only route out of the parking lot anyway. The engine remained on as three True Earthers hopped out of the truck. All of them were carrying bats of one sort or another. Dirk, their fearless leader, was carrying a cricket bat.

“Where the hell did he get a cricket bat?” I said not really processing yet what the purpose of the bat might be.

Dirk and his goons came closer. When they were about 20 paces away, Dirk said, “Runaway little worker bee.”

Instead I stepped closer to Glek until we were shoulder to shoulder. I looked at him and said, “Not running.”

Glek just nodded at me.

What happened next was not surprising. They beat us. I blacked out and the last thing I saw as I slid onto the pavement was Glek next to me oozing green blood.

We both woke up a few days later. We were hospitalized for some time before we could get around again. As soon as we were able, we gathered up everything we owned and drove out of that town.

Dirk and his men didn’t get in any trouble even though everyone knows who beat us. As we left town, I could see the crash site in the rear-view window. I hoped it would be that last time I would ever see that site again.

 

 

The Weird Tale Inspires

iwritebecause

What influences your writing?

I am an avid reader, and I try to read a variety of genres. I have noticed for my short story writing that my leisure reading is definitely influencing my story each month. Last month, my story was about a mage. And no surprise, 3 of the 4 books I read last month would fit into the fantasy genre.

This month, my story is coming along nicely. I have mostly been reading sci-fi this month. So once again, no surprise, my story is reflecting that. The first time I sat down to work on my rough draft that’s where my brain went.

So, my question is, what influences you? What do you find inspiring? Where do you turn when you are feeling blocked?

In the past, one of my biggest sources of inspiration has been a particular type of short story — THE WEIRD TALE. If you have ever read “weird tales” you will automatically understand why they are so inspiring. They are bizarre in an unexplainable way. In fact, the best definition of what makes a weird tale is “you’ll know it when you read it.” I don’t know what it is about this particular type of story, but anytime I feel that I can’t think of an idea or if I get bogged down on a story I am already working on, I read a weird tale or two and it unlocks the creative part of my brain.

So here’s to whatever inspires you!

Happy writing and reading every day!